Budget Madness! Wise Old Yankee Owl Came A Calling…..Part 1

wise old owl iii

onlyhennikerbruce January 21, 2019

During Sunday’s snow storm, I was sitting in front of the roaring fire…nodding off to the wonderful warmth provided by the burning hardwoods… when suddenly my computer dinged in a message.

It was the Wise Old Yankee Owl came a calling…and this is what the Owl taught me….

  • you shall learn my son that, ” that when a large group of individuals try to decide whether to buy a Cadillac or a Kia the concept of buying a Ford rarely ever gets discussed.
  • you shall learn my son  that, “a vote of less than 5% of the registered voters in town represents the “ will of the people”.
  • you shall learn my son that, “some folks speak with great persuasiveness on topics discussed at the meeting and the audience has less than one hour to fact check.”
  • you shall learn my son that, “the vast majority of money spent on both our town and our schools are dedicated to contractual agreements with employees. And, the terms and conditions of those contractual obligations are rarely spoken of in detail at Annual Meetings.”

Thank you Wise Old owl…my nap was deep, long and warm!

Stay tuned…More Owl to come.

OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…..

“There are things public officials would never do if they thought somebody might call them out on it.”

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.com

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Henniker Community School Budget Tops $8 million…Cost Per Student Hits Record High $20,000!

hcs cost 2019-2020 (copy)Two years ago I advised everyone who attended the School District’s Annual Meeting that we should just increase the budget’s warrant article to $8 M and begin managing our dollars better.

It was clear then…Tax payers were stunned at paying that much money for a rather mediocre performing school in a state where the average education is rather…MEDIOCRE.

The private elementary school average is $8,511 per year and the private high school average is $27,319 per year.

The people in the room were aghast! The letters I received (all anonymous of course) were numerous. At least I was scolded for being an alarmist. At worst I was told to leave and never return for scaring the hell out of the residents.

Well what was unthinkable in the past has now arrived…and guess what YOU DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE. Pay up folks and expect an increase next year…and the year after that, and the year after that.

The School Board clearly does not know how to manage money… With the amount of unpaid Property Taxes topping out at over $1M and unfunded road and sewer repair and replacement estimates nearing $15M, hard to imagine prudent financial managers recommending these types of increases.

OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…..

“There are things public officials would never do if they thought somebody might call them out on it.”

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.com

Nothing up my sleeve…Presto…air conditioners! So much for conservation

MOOSE PLATE  File this under silly spending…not hard to find ways to reduce discretionary spending.

I guess so much for conservation…not sure using Moose Plate money for air conditioners is what I had in mind when I got my CONSERVATION PLATE!

Minutes from the August 15, 2017 and the October, 16, 2018 Select Board meeting minutes….Item #3…reflect the lack of any real energy usage discussion about this expenditure. Ironically I was appointed to the Energy Committee on the same night in August 2017 that this use of funds was initially discussed.

Hard to believe but the original Community Center Committee voted down air conditioners in 2003. Expense was considered to be to exorbitant.

How about fans…new technology today (Haiku fans) are very energy efficient

Remember…only way to make a difference is to show up and vote no to these types of expenditures.

 

OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…..

“There are things public officials would never do if they thought somebody might call them out on it.”

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.com

Oh where, oh where can that little budget be…However, teacher’s contract has arrived!

TEACHER CBA (Copy)Let the budget season begin folks…you can find the only online copy of the proposed teacher’s contract here on this blog page. Collective Bargaining Agreement HTA 2019.

We here @ onlyhennikerbruce.com dig deep to bring to you-on a timely basis- the information you deserve….

Come visit our our blog..read about the past and stay informed in the future…get connected…stay informed…an informed voter is a very powerful person!

We promise there will be more to come….

 

OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…..

“There are things public officials would never do if they thought somebody might call them out on it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

SAU hires “apprentice” Special Ed. Director…who needs “mentoring” ??????

HENNIKER BROKEN SCHOOLS Henniker tax payers beware…”Burbank joins SAU 24 student services staff….” July 13, 2018 Volume 23 number 28 article This article raised many questions in the minds of folks who write to the staff here at onlyhennikerbruce.

“As the Field of Special Education becomes more complex….”

  1. “Why are we hiring administrators to run programs, [snip] that are the most litigated aspects of public education, that we publicly declare they are not qualified to do?”
  2. “I wonder if the geniuses who approved this realize that the first question that will be asked at the “assistant directors” first deposition will be, “ is it correct that you are currently being mentored in your position?”
  3. “After an entire paragraph extolling the extensive background of this individual in the area of special ed we get paragraph two which outlines how difficult it is to find a director.
  4. Which begs the question, What will it cost us for the individual who will be “mentored” and our just retired director who will work “one to two days a week”?
  5. “Are we creating a cottage industry-promising to provide comfort to school districts and parents alike-by spending more money lining the pockets of recently retired administrators?”

Now…. the Background:

  • The 1973 Rehabilitation Act (RA) especially (Section 504), the 1975 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) — which guarantees students with disabilities a “free appropriate public education” and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), unquestionably have improved the lives of countless numbers of children and their families.
  • All the statues listed above are indeed Civil Rights. Therefore, Congress has provided a due-process mechanisms allowing for legal course of action to enforce their provisions. In1986, Congress amended the law to also allow the prevailing parents in hearings and court filings to obtain attorneys’ fees… Today, IDEA, Section 504 of the RA, and the ADA are some of the most litigated federal statutes in existence. 
  •  March 2017; The United States Supreme Court decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District,  affirmed a more ambitious standard for setting goals for students with disabilities, At issue is Individualized Education Program (IEP). This case involves a Colorado boy with autism, the Supreme Court held that a school must offer an IEP that is “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.” The Court also wrote students should have the chance to “meet challenging objectives.”

Currently, this bitterly adversarial private enforcement system-along with a Federally imposed unfunded mandate for IEP’s to comply with the more ambitious review standards established in the Endrew Supreme Court decision-has had a toxic effect on American public schools.

It now appears that school districts are exercising extreme caution cautious when making funding decisions regarding regular education services, anticipating possible legal actions by disgruntled parent of a disabled student. In many of the current legal actions in this regard, claims are made that the budget decisions for regular services  negatively impact special education services.

Clearly this will have an impact on both the school budget and the Town’s administrative budget:

  1. Will these increases in SAU spending increases our school budge?
  2. With these increases in the school budget will we have less funds available for infrastructure projects?

Everyone needs to understand, the budget process for  2019 has begun….please stay engaged!

OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…..

“There are things public officials would never do if they thought somebody might call them out on it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Henniker’s Master Plan… a blueprint for the Official Budget Committee.

ZBA PUZZLEHenniker’s Master Plan calls for encouraging public involvement, participation and input on the various Town Departments. Thus Henniker needs more active committees.

The Master Plan’s goal is to ensure that all community services and facilities meet the current and anticipated needs of the service area in an effective and efficient manner.

Henniker’s Master Plan recognizes that the financing of municipal services can be difficult to accomplish in small communities with limited resources. The Master Plan puts forth two very important recommendations;

  1. Henniker should research all available funding options for maintenance and improvements.
  2. Henniker should work to prepare a comprehensive plan that includes funding availability for the desired projects and programs.

 Effective and efficient operations of town facilities and projects will reduce cost of current projects and free up capital that can be re-allocated to future expenditures and expansion of services.

I think the Master Plan has indeed created the mission statement for an Official Budget Committee. Vote Yes… for an Official Budget Committee.

Thank you,

OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…..

“There are things public officials would never do if they thought somebody might call them out on it.”

Official Budget Committee,Understanding the Process!

BUDGET COMMITTEE (Copy) (Copy)  I think that we all agree the operating budget is probably a municipality and a school district’s most important work product. A budget that is approved by the legislative body, is the legal document that gives our governing body officials the authority to incur obligations and pay expenses. It allocates resources among departments, reflecting the legislative body’s priorities and policies, and controls how much each department may spend.

A budget must be more than just financial data. A budget needs to include mission statements, goals, and objectives which clearly convey how budget decisions relate to a wider vision for the future of our town. And, all of these elements must be continuously reviewed so positive and/or negative results can be identified.

It is a complex process, that requires many levels of understanding and extensive review.

An Official Budget Committee provides assistance in that extensive review process. The Official Budget Committee (OBC) is formed only if the Legislative Body (registered voters) of a town adopts RSA 32:14. Once adopted, the responsibility for budgeting has been delegated from the Governing Body to the official budget committee. In addition to the three to twelve members-at-large, an official budget committee must have one governing body ex officio member, and one village district and/or school board member ex officio, if there is a village district and/or school district that lies wholly within the town. RSA 32:15.

With an Official Budget Committee, the budget process should work as follows:

  1. All officers and departments submit statements of estimated expenses and receipts to the governing body (Board of Selectmen or School Board).
  2. The governing body submits its own recommendations to the OBC,  including all pertinent information regarding appropriations and the details of all anticipated revenue.
  3. Review of the Governing body’s recommendation and Prepare the budget. “It is the budget committee’s operating budget that is submitted to the Department of Revenue and presented to the voters for adoption at the annual meeting. That being said, the governing body, not the budget committee, [emphasis added] has the authority to propose other appropriations (i.e., separate warrant articles containing appropriations). When a village district or school district lies wholly within a town with a budget committee, the town budget committee also prepares the proposed budget for that village district and/or school district. In addition, in SB 2 towns, the budget committee prepares the default budget as well as the proposed operating budget if the voters previously delegated that responsibility to the budget committee. RSA 40:14-b; RSA 40:13, IX(b).” (link #1)
  4. “RSA 32:16 and RSA 32:17 (link #2) also make it clear that the budget committee has the authority to request information directly from department heads and other officials. While necessary, requested information should be provided to the budget committee, the committee must remember that it has no authority to direct municipal staff work duties.” (see link #1)
  5. Hold Public budget Hearings: By statute, the OBC must hold at least one public budget hearing where all appropriations and the purpose of those appropriations must be disclosed and thoroughly discussed. Note: Preparing the budget is just one of the duties of the OBC. Periodic review the current and past year’s budget performances is another requirement. “In conjunction with budget committee’s responsibility to prepare the budget, the committee also has the authority to review current expenditures by acquiring a “comparative statement of all appropriations and all expenditures by them made in such detail as the budget committee may require.” RSA 32:22. In fact, RSA 32:22 says that the budget committee “shall meet periodically to review such statements.” (Link #1)
  6. Once the public hearings have been completed, the OBC proposed budget and its recommendations on special warrant articles must be submitted to the the Tow Clerk’s office, the two corresponding Governing Bodies and Department of Revenue Administration.
  7.   Presentation to the voters for adoption at the annual meeting.

Clearly, the adoption of an OBC will enhance the budget review process….