Editorials published by the Goffstown Residents
Association are written by various members and
contributing non-members of the GRA.

November 27, 2009
Budget Committee must look at salaries

Beginning Tuesday, the Goffstown Budget Committee will begin its deliberations on this year's town and school budgets.  During this process, there will be much to consider.

Local services (school and town) cost money and are provided by our employees and our employees do a good job; however, their benefits have seen huge increases. The cost of health insurance has taken a big jump again this year and the budgets' contribution to their retirement fund is huge. These increases are, in part, a result of the lawmakers up in Concord and I will not grind away on that issue. The magnitude of these increases was not on the radar screen one, two and three years ago for the Budget Committee, the Board of Selectmen, the School Board, and the voters when the current collective bargaining agreements were approved. 

For example, a quick analysis of the school budget shows a 15.8% increase in health insurance costs and a 18.1% increase in retirement costs in just this year alone. Over the past three years, these increases have been 30.8% and 50.0% respectfully. Ouch!

What does this mean? In just this year, these two benefits alone amount to an increase $825,000. I contend that a 6% increase annually the expectation would have produced a $295,000 increase. That amounts to over a half a million dollars ($530,000) in costs that do not give us, the taxpayers, any increase in services whatsoever that were not expected or planned. 

Salaries and benefits for the schools total almost $25M of the proposed budget of $36.1M, while on the town side, the personnel costs are even a greater percentage of the overall operating budget. 

Over the years, the Budget Committee, the School District, and the School Board have concentrated upon constraints to the non-personnel portion of the school budget to achieve reductions. The cost of these reductions have resulted in more and more cost shifting to the students and their parents in reduced offerings and fees for service. One hundred percent of the reductions, mind you!

Now, again the elephant in the room, salary increases. With no increase in the student base, the salary increases in the school budget amount to $783,000 or 4.76%. Even the School Board is giving themselves a 4.15% pay increase!

Do you expect to see an increase like that in your income???

We should look toward the beneficiaries of these increase to cover some of these costs while we, the taxpayers, are getting nothing measurable for these greatly increased costs. Not even the students are getting an increase in benefits, only the staff, so it is "not for the kiddies" my friends.

We are down to the wire in the budget cycle. From where I sit there are two acceptable options. One option would be for the respective collective bargaining units to step forward with a good faith effort to help reduce the school and the town operating budgets. The other option is for the budget committee to come forward with proposed budgets providing less funding to the salary lines. The third option will not on the table until the proposed budget goes to the voters. It is your dollar, spend it wisely. 



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