Understanding the Goffstown Budget Process

As a reader of my local paper, all I ask of folks writing letters to the editor is to fact check what they’re writing, I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Well, apparantly, one writer to the paper thinks it is.

They start off by railing against a statement I made during the Budget Committee’s vote on the Town Budget pointing out the fact not one resident attending the Budget Committee’s Public Hearing held on January 14, 2015 stood up to suggest the Budget Committee lower either the School or Town moneyed warrant articles, not one.  As a matter of fact, most rose to ask the Budget Committee (BC) maintain funding for specific programs such as milfoil erradication and the Introductary Transportaion Program. The writer continued on to state what their idea of what the charge of a Budget Committee member is (some may differ in that view ) and ended by name-calling one member in particular (apparently, I’m ignorant), and encouraging folks to attend the next public hearing (there isn’t one), and suggested folks attend the next meeting (which is the School Deliberative Session) in droves (I would like that) to advise me loud and clear how they feel (again, I would love to hear from the public about a range of issue pertaining to my membership on the BC). But, before they do I would list the following points:

First, the meeting set for January 31st is the School Deliberative Session that has one article on it, the School Budget (which was +$48,030 from the default budget) and voted on unanimously by the BC 12-0-0. Motion by Pam Manney to accept, seconded by Guy Caron. Motion passed.

Second, the purpose of the Public Hearing is to accept input from the public. That there is a strict legal process to said public hearings listed in NH RSA’s in particular RSA32:15, 16 & 17. Part of that law is that we post Legal Notices of Public Hearings via the local newspaper. The fact is, we want to hear from you. You, the public, are an important component of the process. We hear and listen to those that attend. It makes a difference and we, the members of the BC, take what you say seriously and use your statements as a basis to reopen the budget for further discussion. The fact that ones chooses not to engage is not our fault and actually hinders our ability to represent you and your wishes. So, attending does matter.

Third, that the Goffstown Budget committee is governed by strict laws found in RSA32, the Municipal Budget Law, which outlines the duties of a municipal budget committee.

Fourth, that all BC meetings are posted, recorded and minutes written. That all meetings held are public and recorded live as well as live-streamed on GTV.

Fifth, that the town of Goffstown has a website which posts notices of meetings and has a calendar that informs the public of important dates and provides information on items of public interest. For example: 2015 Election Information, a webpage that includes a link to the 2015 Town Warrant and other information a voter can go to to acquire information.

In the end, the fact a person doesn’t avail themselves of the opportunities to be informed, included and engaged in forming public policy is not the fault of the governing body and no amount of name-calling and bashing the ones that did engage will change the fact you didn’t.

Update: Not only didn’t people show up in droves to today’s session, they barely showed up at all, in particular, the letter writer, themself.


2015 Goffstown Deliberative Sessions

The Goffstown Budget Committee’s public hearings on the School and town budgets are in the books. (Here are the minutes – Public hearing (video), BC deliberation, (video). 2014 Minutes discussing budgets.) Not that many residents attended, I’d say about 30 with most concerned, primarily, with maintaining milfoil funds in the budget. Otherwise, not one person stood up to complain about any of the articles nor about the proposed tax impact of said proposed articles, which was kind of surprising considering that’s usually the norm. Because of the lack of public disagreement with the Budget Committees proposed budgets by folks attending the public hearing, the Budget Committee, procedurally, did not amend the proposed moneyed articles.

That could change, though, during the next phase of the budget process (Deliberative Sessions where the public is given a final chance to have a say about what goes on Goffstown’s School and Town Warrants. For example: John Smith is not a happy the tax rate will rise so he motions to cut the budget by a certain percentage. If that motion passes, the Budget Committee must revote to recommend or not recommend the amended article. Same goes for if Suzy Smith rises to motion to increase funding or add an item to an article. If the motion passes, the Budget Committee must have a revote. If it fails, nothing changes and their original vote remains. Same goes for the School Board and Board of Selectmen. If one of their articles is amended, each must have a revote to reflect their agreement or disagreement with said change. So, whether you’re for or against something, it matters that folks on either side of an issue attend and show their support for what they believe is important for our town.

The School Deliberative session is planned for Saturday, January 31, 10:00AM at Goffstown Area High School, auditorium. Snow date: February 2, 7:00PM.

The Town Deliberative Session is planned for Wednesday, February 04, 7:00PM at Goffstown Area High School, auditorium. Snow date: February 05.

I’ll be posting more info in the coming days, in the meantime, please log onto the links above, read some minutes, watch some videos and come prepared with questions and concerns to the upcoming deliberative sessions.