Editorials published by the
Association are written by various members and
contributing non-members of the GRA.
December 24, 2008
Stop $chool foxes
from guarding their own henhouse
It's time to delegate
determination of default $chool budget to the Budget
these difficult economic times, we believe it is
incumbent upon all elected officials to work diligently
to help ease the financial crunch we are all feeling due
to the growing recession.
Here in Goffstown, we've seen our Board of Selectmen do
just that, having sharpened their pencils and made the
necessary, yet sensible, reductions to department heads'
requested budgets, understanding the need for those
departments to all tighten their belts and streamline
their operations. The result is that the Town side of
our tax rate will not change next year. Kudos to
the Goffstown Board of Selectmen.
Not so with our $chool Board.
Board chairman Keith Allard has been repeating over and
over lately that the $chool Board worked hard this year
and made substantial "cuts" to their budget. And no
doubt, Allard will continue to say this to anyone who
will listen, right up until the March vote in the hopes
of pushing through the $chool Board's budget - to the
detriment of Goffstown taxpayers.
However, Allard's claims are little more that a
carefully-crafted smokescreen that does not bear up
under close scrutiny.
To begin with, the $chool Board has not cut anything
from their budget. Just the opposite. When Allard makes this claim,
he is either intentionally misleading the voters, or he is
In fact, the proposed $chool budget is again an increase
of millions over what the $chool Board spent last year. Secondly,
what Allard is actually referring to is a reduction
in the requested budget amount.
not a tax cut, folks, especially from a taxpayer's
perspective. Indeed, on the $chool side, taxpayers
will see both their property taxes and property tax rates
increase again over the previous year.
When the Budget Committee reviewed the $chool Board's
submitted budget on December 4th, they lowered the
bottom line of that budget by $1.26M. This still
would have left the $chool Board with roughly $2M more
than it actually spent last year.
But the $chool Board wanted more, and after intense
pressure and questionable tactics at the December 16th
Budget Committee meeting, they succeeded in getting
$700,000 of that reduction put back into their budget
(not that they needed the committee's approval).
The result? Another $chool tax hike for Goffstown,
at a time when enrollment is DOWN (again) from last
FLAWED $CHOOL BUDGET PROCESS
The real problem in our budget process in Goffstown is
the difference in the way the Town and the $chool budget
processes work, and the way they each ultimately make
their ways onto the ballot.
To put it simply, the proposed Town budget is comprised
of individual department and administrative
budgets. Each year they are
put together by various administrators and department
heads, then brought to the Board of Selectmen for
review. Selectmen, who have no budget of their
own, then review those various requested department
budgets, make additions or reductions as they believe
necessary, then send that budget to the Budget Committee
for review. The Budget Committee, which is only an advisory committee, then has the
opportunity to make additional recommended changes, send it back to
selectmen. Ultimately selectmen will present a
final recommended budget at public hearing for eventual submission
to taxpayers at Town Vote in March.
What is noteworthy in the Town process is that the Board
of Selectmen have nothing to gain, individually or as a
board, during this process; they are simply making
adjustments to the requested budgets of various town
departments. And the town administrators and
department heads who are requesting these budgets are
not the ones who decide what budgets will actually be
submitted to the voters.
$CHOOL BOARD GUARDS ITS OWN HENHOUSE
But that is not the case with the $chool Board.
Indeed, the $chool Board not only decides how much money
to put in their budget year after year through their own
internal processes (principal's & administrators
budgets), they are also the ones who approve that same
budget to be sent to the voters. They are not at
the mercy of a non-partisan board or committee such as
the Town's department heads are.
Sure, the voters could always reject it, but that would
mean reverting to the default budget, and the $chool
Board establishes their default budget as well!
Effectively, the $chool Board is guarding its own
henhouse, with none of the checks and balances that
exist in the Town budgeting process in place to reign in
their "fluff"-filled budgets each year..
This has GOT to end.
BUDGET COMMITTEE MUST BE GIVEN AUTHORITY
Unfortunately, many voters fail to realize that our
Budget Committee functions in an advisory capacity
only. They do not have the authority to determine
our $chool* (or Town) default budget.
The $chool Board is well aware of this, effectively
warning the Budget Committee on December 16th that
if the committee did not agree to their demands, the $chool
Board had ways to get whatever amount they wanted
anyway. For all intents and purposes, the $chool
Board pointed out that the Budget Committee was
powerless to stop them. And at the moment, they're
The only way to keep the $chool foxes from guarding
their own henhouse (and running amok as they have for
years with taxpayer money) is to take control of
establishing their own default budget away from
them and put it in the hands of the Budget
Committee. Doing so would provide taxpayers with a
much more fair and balanced assessment of $chool needs,
and help reign in the "fluff" that chairman
Allard admitted last week existed in the $chool budget.
SUPPORT PETITION ARTICLE IN MARCH
Giving the Budget Committee authority to establish
municipal default budgets is provided for under New
Hampshire statute RSA 40:14-b. In 2006, petition
articles appeared on the ballot in an attempt to do just
that, but failed to garner the
required 60% of the vote to pass.
Next March, a petition article will appear on the $chool
Warrant stating: "Shall we adopt the provisions of RSA 40:14-b to delegate the determination of the default budget to the municipal budget committee which has been adopted under RSA 32:14?"
We STRONGLY URGE all voters to support this petition
article by voting YES to it on March 10th.
Contrary to what you will be hearing soon, passage of
such an article will not squeeze our $chool
services, nor will it reduce bus service, eliminate
sports programs or result in any of the other
"sky-is-falling" fear-stoking cries often
heard from our $chool departments.
Rather, passage of this article will pressure our $chool
officials to do what every other department in Goffstown
had to do this year: sharpen their
pencils, tighten their belts, and put the best interests
of Goffstown's taxpayers - and the futures of our children - ahead of
their own "fluff" and pet projects.
It's a simple matter of eliminating wasteful and
unnecessary spending - something the $chool Board has
never had to do.
calculations expose waste
support school petition article
budget continues to double every 10 years
the School Board look out for your best
Committee caves in amid School tactics
the $chool Board - and government - is ruining Goffstown
Do you agree or disagree with the above
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