Litchfield Budget Committee | Meeting Summary | Oct 14, 2021

The Litchfield Budget Committee held a meeting at Town Hall on October 14th at 7pm.  Members in attendance were Andrew Cutter (Chair), John David Son (Vice Chair), Keri Douglas, William Hayes, Derek Barka, Scott Taylor, Kate Stevens, Christina Harrison (School Board Representative), and Robert Leary (Selectmen Representative). Also in attendance were Town Administrator Troy Brown, Finance Manager Karen White, Fire Chief Frank Fraitzl, Deputy-Chief Doug Nicoli, Police Chief Ben Sargent, Captain Thomas Scotti, Conservation Committee Chair Matt Lepore.

Public Input

There was no public input at this meeting.

The following department budgets were reviewed at this meeting:

  • 4220.10 – Fire Department
  • 4290.10 – Emergency Management
  • 4220.90 – Fire Hydrants
  • 4215.10 – Ambulance
  • 4210.10 – Police Administration
  • 4210.50 – Police Support Services
  • 4414.14 – Animal Control
  • 4611.20 – Conservation Commission
  • 4196.90 – Insurance
  • 4155.10 – Personnel Administration
  • 4197.10 – Advertising and Regional Associations
  • 4414.10 – Health Agencies
  • 4191.10 – Planning Board

Tax Cap Discussion

The Operating Budget is currently at $7,442,795, a 3.21% increase over what was voter-approved last March. Mr. Cutter commented that the Town has gone from a $5.2 million budget to a $7.4 million budget over the last five years. The Town is only $24,946 underneath the annual Tax Cap. The Highway Block Grant, Revenue Sharing, and State Revenues will influence that amount. The budget will also be affected once the Committee reviews warrant articles that ask for taxation. The Committee must agree on which, if any, warrant articles it would support, and any new taxation can not go over the tax cap.

Residents are encouraged to attend Budget Committee meetings in person at Town Hall unless otherwise stated.  Public input is also invited before meetings via email to Chair Andrew Cutter at acutter@litchfieldnh.gov.  Emails must include the commenter’s first and last name and address. 

As a reminder, Budget Committee responses to posts on social media are limited.  Past meetings can be viewed on the LitchfieldTV Youtube channel.

Litchfield Budget Committee | Meeting Summary | Oct 7, 2021

The Litchfield Budget Committee held a meeting at Town Hall on October 7th at 7pm.  Members in attendance were Andrew Cutter (Chair), John David Son (Vice Chair), Keri Douglas, William Hayes, Derek Barka, Scott Taylor, Christina Harrison (School Board Representative), and Robert Leary (Selectmen Representative). Absent member was Kate Stevens. Also in attendance were Town Administrator Troy Brown, Chair of ZBA Laura Gandia, Director of Technology John Brunelle, Library Trustee Chairperson Donna Ferguson, Library Director Vicki Varick.

Public Input

There was no public input at this meeting.

Town Business Report provided by Town Administrator Brown

The Town has been working with the Capital Improvement Plan, the School District, and the Library. Impact Fees will be reviewed. The Town planned to use $65,000 of impact fees toward the 2022 Fire Station bond payment. This will be reflected as a reduction in the bond payment budget line, not revenue or an additional principal payment. The bond does not allow for additional principal payments or refinancing for ten years.

The following department budgets were reviewed at this meeting:

  • 4241.20 – Code Enforcement
  • 4411.10 – Health Department
  • 4520.10 – Parks and Recreation
  • 4191.30 – Zoning Board
  • 4550.20 – Library
  • 4195.10 – Cemetaries
  • 4411.20 – Mosquito District
  • 4194.10 – General Governmental Facilities
  • 4150.20 – Information Technology
  • 4140.10 – Town Clerk

Residents are encouraged to attend Budget Committee meetings in person at Town Hall unless otherwise stated.  Public input is also invited before meetings via email to Chair Andrew Cutter at acutter@litchfieldnh.gov.  Emails must include the commenter’s first and last name and address. 

As a reminder, Budget Committee responses to posts on social media are limited.  Past meetings can be viewed on the LitchfieldTV Youtube channel.

Litchfield Budget Committee | Meeting Summary | Sept 30, 2021

The Litchfield Budget Committee held a meeting at Town Hall on September 30 at 7pm.  Members in attendance were Andrew Cutter (Chair), John David Son (Vice Chair), Keri Douglas, William Hayes, Derek Barka, Scott Taylor, Kate Stevens, Christina Harrison (School Board Representative), and Robert Leary (Selectmen Representative). Also in attendance were Town Administrator Troy Brown, Town Financial Manager Karen White, Town Clerk and Tax Collector Theresa Briand, Facility Manager Dave Mellen (virtual), Road Agent Kevin Brown.

Public Input

Thomas Schofield commented that the residents of Litchfield count on the Budget Committee. He criticized the Select Board for treating the tax cap as a starting point for the next year’s spending and using current year funds to purchase a police vehicle and fire vehicle that were not planned for this year. He commented that instead of spending excess money at the end of a year the Town should return the money to the tax payers. Mr. Schofield asked that the Budget Committee scrutinize the Select Board as much as they scrutinize the School Board. He compared the $200,000 encumbered by the School Board from their transportation budget to the excess money spent by the Select Board. Mr. Schofield mentioned the aging fire truck fleet, and that he expects the committee members will be watching his money, as he will be watching further Budget Committee meetings.

The following department budgets were reviewed at this meeting:

  • 4130.30 – Town Meeting
  • 4140.10 – Town Clerk
  • 4150.40 – Tax Collection
  • 4321.10 – Sanitation Administration
  • 4311.10 – Road Agent
  • 4312.10- Road Maintenance
  • 4316.30 -Street Lighting
  • 4150.10 – Accounting
  • 4152.10 – Revaluation of Property
  • 4130.10 – Board of Selectmen
  • 4153.10 – Legal Expenses
  • 4445.20 – Welfare Vendor Payments
  • 4583.10 – Patriotic Purposes
  • 4723.10 – Debt Services

Residents are encouraged to attend Budget Committee meetings in person at Town Hall unless otherwise stated.  Public input is also invited before meetings via email to Chair Andrew Cutter at acutter@litchfieldnh.gov.  Emails must include the commenter’s first and last name and address. 

As a reminder, Budget Committee responses to posts on social media are limited.  Past meetings can be viewed on the LitchfieldTV Youtube channel.

Litchfield Budget Committee | Meeting Summary | Sept 23, 2021

The Litchfield Budget Committee held a meeting at Town Hall on September 23 at 7pm.  The current members are Andrew Cutter (Chair), John David Son (Vice Chair), Keri Douglas, William Hayes, Derek Barka (absent), Scott Taylor, Kate Stevens, Christina Harrison (School Board Representative), and Robert Leary (Selectmen Representative).

Cory Izbicki, School Business Administrator, was also in attendance.

Public Input

There was no public input at this meeting.

Committee Business

The committee reviewed virtual meeting attendance laws and agreed that at the start of each meeting, a motion should be made to allow remote participation at the start of each meeting as needed.  The committee will vote on a case-by-case basis.

The committee discussed handshake agreements versus memorandums of understanding for how unused budget funds are handled.  Depending on need, the Board of Selectmen or School Board may encumber unused funds for necessary projects before returning funds to taxpayers. A handshake agreement made 13+ years ago has been called into question by new members and staff of both the School Board and Budget Committee that specifically any leftover funds in the Special Education Transportation budget should be returned directly to taxpayers.  Members discussed whether a written agreement will make a difference.  Chairman Cutter suggested any agreements be added to the Budget Committee by-laws to be annually reviewed by the committee and school board members.

Business Reports

Updates on town business were provided by Mr. Leary.  The Board of Selectmen have completed the town budget except for insurance information which will be updated in the coming weeks.  The transfer station has begun chipping yard waste instead of burning it which is friendlier to close neighbors and the environment.  The BOS is considering converting the town’s street lights to LED.  The return on investment would be less than 3 years.

Mrs. Harrison provided a school business summary including current enrollment numbers, staff shortages, and the completion of Phase-1A of the LMS construction and energy efficiency project.  Phase-1B, LMS roof replacement, should begin next week.  Phase 2, retrofitting light fixtures and new HVAC systems, will being summer of 2022.  This project was identified as Urgent and accepted into the Litchfield Capital Improvement Plan for 2021.  An LMS kitchen renovation was identified as Desirable in the CIP and planned for 2022.  The district hired a kitchen designer and found that a layout adjustment could be sufficient, and the project likely will not cost the anticipated $300,000.

Mr. Izbicki expects to meet with First Student Bus Company to discuss fuel savings after combining the middle school and high school bus runs, which reduced the daily runs from three to two.

Mr. Son and Mr. Izbicki updated the committee on meetings with the GMS Architect and conversations have begun on costs of renovating vs. a new build.  It is unlikely that Litchfield would receive state building aid because there are other districts with more urgent build needs, but would apply regardless.  Community forums will be conducted to gather input from all taxpayers and school community members.  Impact fees may be visited with the Planning Board to help raise funds.

Town Budget Presentations to the committee begin Thursday, Sept 30, at 7pm, and continue Oct. 7th and Oct. 14th.  

Budget Committee voting on Town Budget is Thursday, Oct. 21 at 7pm.

Residents are encouraged to attend Budget Committee meetings in person at Town Hall unless otherwise stated.  Public input is also invited before meetings via email to Andrew Cutter at acutter@litchfieldnh.gov.  Emails must include the commenter’s first and last name and address. 

As a reminder, Budget Committee responses to posts on social media are limited.  Past meetings can be viewed on the LitchfieldTV Youtube channel.

Litchfield Budget Committee | Meeting Summary | August 26, 2021

The Litchfield Budget Committee held a meeting at Town Hall on August 26 at 7pm.  The current members are Andrew Cutter (Chair), John David Son (Vice Chair), Keri Douglas, William Hayes, Derek Barka, Scott Taylor, Kate Stevens, Christina Harrison (School Board Representative), and Robert Leary (Selectmen Representative).

Public Input

There was no public input at this meeting.

Business Reports

Updates on town business was provided by Mr. Leary.  Town departments have begun their budget presentations to the Board of Selectmen.  The budget committee expects a preliminary 2022 draft town budget in September.

Mrs. Harrison sent a school business summary to the chair as she could not make the meeting in order to conduct interviews for a new middle school principal.  The school district has already begun contract negotiations with the both the teachers and support staff unions.

There are multiple open positions at each school listed at https://sau27.tedk12.com/hire/index.aspx.  If interested please do not hesitate to apply.  

A memorandum of understanding detailing the expectations between budget committee and school board will be discussed at the next committee meeting.  The school district bus contract and potential cost reduction from combining the middle school and high school regular service is also expected to be discussed.

Next regular Budget Committee meeting is Thursday, Sept 23, 2021 at 7pm.  

Town Budget Presentations to the committee begin Thursday, Sept 30, at 7pm.

Residents are encouraged to attend Budget Committee meetings in person at Town Hall.  Public input is also invited before meetings via email to Andrew Cutter at acutter@litchfieldnh.gov.  Emails must include the commenter’s first and last name and address. 

As a reminder, Budget Committee responses to posts on social media are limited.  Past meetings can be viewed on the LitchfieldTV Youtube channel.