Approved Minutes of the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC)
Town of Temple, NH
March 26, 2003
Members present Public present
(in alphabetical order) Christine Andersen
Steve Andersen (ph 924-7661; 924 8544; f 924-2306) Joyce Kullgren
Rae Barnhisel (ph/f 878-3671) Bruce Kullgren, Jr.
Charlene Eddy (ph 878-1589) Jennifer Kullgren
Brian Kullgren (ph 878-3935) Sherry Fiske (select board
Chris Nolte (ph 878-3064) Ted Petro (select board)
Paul Quinn (ph 924-6173) Debra Harling (admin. asst.)
Meeting called to order at 7:09 pm
Order of Business:
1. Minutes: February 26, 2003, minutes approved.
2. Discussion with Select Board Members
T. Petro expressed his concern that budgeting involved “policy” and that policy should be set by the Select Board. He gave an example of police coverage on weekends. Barnhisel asked whether the BAC might just focus on “process” and let the people decide on policy. Andersen said the BAC would bring policy issues to Select Board, and if there was disagreement, to poll the taxpayer. Quinn gave an example in which the Select Board might, as policy, add 10% to the budget, and that the BAC would assess that policy. He felt that the two bodies would work together but that policy had not yet been articulated. S. Fiske said that the budget process has been handed down orally without a policy put into writing. Kullgren said that, as a past Select Board member, policy was often challenged by residents in town and sometimes changed as a result. He felt SB-2 (Senate Bill 2) might be a good thing for the town in 2 to 3 years. Barnhisel suggested that the BAC might be changed to a full-fledged Budget Committee under 32:14. J. Kullgren provided the information that 99 out of 261 towns in New Hampshire had Budget Committees.
3. Elections and Logistics
The following members were nominated for the following positions: Andersen for Chair, Kullgren for Vice-Chair, and Barnhisel for Minute-Taker. Nominations were seconded and voted unanimously in the affirmative. S. Fiske asked whether the BAC would prefer to have a paid minute-taker brought in. The BAC voted in the negative (Barnhisel abstained). Barnhisel asked for detailed feedback from other members on the minutes and said her goal was to see them be shorter if possible. The BAC voted to meet every 2nd and 4th Wed. from 7 pm to 9 pm. The meetings will be held in the Municipal Building until April and then in the Town Hall thereafter (beginning May 14). Barnhisel will prepare a submission for the Temple Newsletter (May 1 deadline) to inform residents of the time and place.
4. Discussion on Taxpayer Involvement
The BAC agreed that holding meetings in the Town Hall would encourage taxpayer participation in the process. Andersen suggested polling taxpayers with post cards to get a feel for what the people want to have happen. Nolte commented on the frustration of taxpayers in participating. Quinn suggested using the local newspaper and newsletter to advertise meetings and agendas and letting local reporters know of what the BAC was doing. Andersen brought in a newsletter written by Greenfield’s BAC. Petro suggested that BAC members should go door-to-door or stand at the store to meet people and discuss issues. The BAC agreed to provide more detailed information to the taxpayer in the Annual Town Report. Barnhisel read from DRA’s handout on Chapter 32: Municipal Budget Law and cited 32:5, VII that mandates towns to print the certified posted budget (MS-6) in the town report. She said that this minimum requirement had not been met in the latest Town Report and suggested that abatements be itemized.
5. Discussion on BAC Function
Barnhisel read the RSA that governs the BAC, 32:24: Other Committees to underscore that the BAC appears to have the latitude to function “as the municipality...sees fit...” and pointed that Chapter 32:11, I: Emergency Expenditures and Overexpenditures lays out a process for special, unforeseen appropriations. Andersen raised the issue of whether using the fund balance to offset increases in the tax rate was a prudent system. He asked whether the town wanted Priority Spending or Overappropriating and whether we would build a budget on what is appropriated or what is spent. It was agreed that Barnhisel would contact Sandra Rourke and Beverly Jewell from DRA to come in for another working session. J. Kullgren provided a copy of Chapter 10, Budget and Finance Management, taken from the Handbook for Local Officials (June 2001) to the BAC and copies were made for each member. Barnhisel gave each new member a copy of the policy recommendations of last year’s BAC and asked members to consider adopting (with amendments) their 3 goals. Nolte asked that members be given time to digest the paperwork.
5. Interview with Administrative Assistant, Debra Harling
D. Harling addressed questions that had been raised in last year’s BAC minutes regarding whether the “green book,” a Pay Classification by the NH Municipal Association, had been officially adopted. She gave an adoption date of Feb. 2002 and explained that book contains the recommendation for an annual pay raise of 3%. She reported that department heads were now receiving a monthly statement of their portion of the operating budget (i.e., Road Agent receives Hwy Dept. and Cemetery portions). When asked about the status of the part-time employees, D. Harling replied that record retention is still needed but that it is not likely to go past another year. The office assistant position was a more permanent position that needed evaluation. Certain tasks such as payroll and accounts payable needed better coverage.
She addressed why spending in the fourth quarter of the year seemed rapid and explained that some expenses are held off until the end of year due to the possibility of an unforeseen emergency. Andersen questioned the $4000 gravel purchase (trucking and material) in the Cemetery category. Discussion on getting bids followed. Currently, there is no policy and Dept. heads have leeway to find the best price. D. Harling said that the Fire Engineers have a policy of getting a second opinion if the purchase price is over $500. Discussion followed on whether the BAC is an appropriate committee to evaluate bids. D. Harling suggested that certain investigative work such a health insurance could be examined by the BAC.
D. Harling stated she would not start working on the budget until after Sept. because of other obligations to DRA. When asked by Kullgren to pick a date for Dept. heads to bring in their budgets, Harling suggested the end of Sept. Andersen asked whether 2 copies of the entire budget (categories and line item detail) could be provided to the BAC each month. T. Petro suggested quarterly. Andersen suggested that monthly can evolve to quarterly. It was agreed that D. Harling would provide the BAC with 6 full copies quarterly and provide the Budget Report (categories only) monthly. D. Harling agreed to provide the BAC the Account Detail (line item detail) for a specific category if there was a question.
6. Members’ Comments
Quinn made the following requests: a) that the BAC evaluate the information that Mason Klinck provided at the Town Meeting, “Statistical Analysis...Comparative Town Spending, b) that all Dept. heads be invited to the workshop session with Sandra Rourke, c) that the BAC organize a workshop with Dept. heads to standardize procedures, and d) that the BAC hold a formal meeting with the select Board in June.
Meeting adjourned at 9:13 pm
April 9, 2003