Budget Committee | 6/27/19 Meeting Summary

The BC met last night @ 7PM. All members were in attendance and the following actions were taken and points discussed:

Litchfield Budget Committee Meeting – June 27, 2019

1) New Hampshire Municipal Associating Budget Law Training. NHMA provided an overview of budget law for the Committee and reviewed various RSA’s that dictate the laws & process the Budget Committee must follow. The role of the BC includes:

  • Review current year expenditures
  • Review proposals, request information
  • Prepare budget
  • Schedule & hold budget hearings
  • Forward final proposed budget to governing body
  • Does not control spending
  • 10% rule in towns with official budget committee
  • Budget can not surpass YoY increase >10%
  • In 2017 Litchfield passed a local tax cap on the town side where the budget can not exceed an increase >$175k.

2) Acceptance of 5/23/19 Meeting Minutes
3) LEA Teachers Contract Update

  • The Superintendent provided the BC with an update on teachers contract.
  • On 6/27, the School Board held an Emergency meeting and voted to approve a renegotiated collective bargaining agreement with the LEA.
  • Terms of the new agreement include:
  • A total 3 year cost of ~$854k. This is a reduction from the failed March 2019 warrant article which was ~$1.1MM.
  • Year 1 would reflect a 1% Cost of Living (COLA) increase, Year 2 = 1.5% COLA increase, Year 3 = 1.75% COLA increase
  • Primary renegotiated points to support the decrease in cost are:
  • Health insurance is more in line with industry standard and shifts from ‘Cadillac Plan’ to a deductible/co-insurance based plan
  • No make up in step increases to account for past years where there was no contract
  • Longevity payments have decreased

Next steps are for the Superior Court to review the petition for a Special Election as well as for the Budget Committee to formally vote to recommend/not recommend the contract. The Budget Committee will have a special meeting planned for the evening of Monday August 5th to vote on the LEA ContractThe Superintendents goal is to have the special election at the end of September. Working back from that timeline, there will be a deliberative session planned for early September and the BC vote should be recorded by August 9th.

4) School Update

  • A review of year end encumbrances were performed. Total encumbrances = $197,593
  • Estimated fund balance (as of 6/19/19) = $331,845.77

5) Town Update

  • Two lawn mowers were purchased to replace failing equipment

6) School Capital Planning Committee Update

  • The BC discussed member participation on the School Capital Planning Committee. While the Committee is very much in favor of the Capital Planning charter and putting together a district wide strategic plan, the BC voted 2-7-0 to not participate in this committee. Reasoning for the failed vote was primarily related to maintaining independence as a Committee as well as how effective one member would be speaking on behalf of the BC, when the BC has not met to discuss.

Note: Any public comments or questions can be addressed to the Budget Committee during the next public meeting, a special meeting to vote on the LEA Teachers contract, planned for August 5th. Budget Committee responses to questions are not permitted via social media.

As shared by Andrew Cutter via Facebook on 6/28/2019.

Budget Committee | 5/23 Meeting Summary

The Budget Committee met this evening and the following was reviewed:

Acceptance of 4/18 meeting minutes. Pass 5-2-0

Correspondence Summary

  • Fire Station IT & overall project expense summaries were provided
  • School District Business Administrator reports for April and May were received

Town Business

  • 64% of operating budget has been expended YTD
  • Town audit is near completion with final/formal results expected in September
  • All planned highway paving projects are now complete
  • Tax bills will be sent out this week (SORRY FOR THE BAD NEWS!)
  • The Fire Chief applied and received a 40k grant for equipment and furniture for our new emergency response center in the new fire station

School Business

  • The Budget Committee confirmed a five year First Student contract is now in place. New buses will be rolling throughout town for the next school year. The new buses will all be equipped with internal and external cameras, which will hopefully deter and catch any stop sign runners. 
  • School enrollment currently stands at 1,321 students. 
  • Kindergarten current year has 87 students. Thus far 60 are registered for next year. IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY DONE SO, PLEASE ENROLL YOUR K STUDENT(S). Information can be found at: http://www.litchfieldsd.org/StudentRegistration.aspx
  • A new LEA negotiated contract is complete with the School Board. The contract is under review currently with the LEA. 
  • End of year fund projection is currently at 487k. The school board is planning ~197k in encumbrances. The list has not been voted on or finalized at this stage.

Member Input/New Business

  • Next Budget Committee meeting will be on 6/27. This meeting will largely be focused on NHMA training – This is an open session and all are welcome to attend. At the conclusion of the training, an abbreviated Budget Committee meeting will be held.
  • Mr. Cutter’s analysis of the school budget was also reviewed. Mr. Cutter commented that he felt the school budget for next year was 1MM higher than needed and the town budget is 300-500k higher than needed – based upon actual spend and historical account based trending. Refer to information shared with the community under the 4/18 Meeting Summary.
  • The School Board desires to establish a Capital Planning Committee to specifically put together a 3 to 5 year building plan. The Budget Committee discussed if one member would be involved, as per the School Board request. This will be decided at the 6/27 meeting.

Note: Any public comments or questions can be addressed to the Budget Committee during the 6/27 public meeting. Budget Committee responses to questions are not permitted via social media.

As shared by Andrew Cutter via Facebook on 5/23/2019.

Budget Committee | 4/18/19 Meeting Summary

The Budget Committee met this evening. Attendees included: K. Douglas (Chair), A. Cutter (V. Chair), J. Martin, B. Hodgkins, W. Hayes, R. Meyers (SB), B Lemire and R Leary (BOS)

A review an acceptance of minutes from the January 10th and February 9th meetings occurred – both with a 4-0-3 vote. The March 28th minutes were also accepted as amended with a 7-0-0 vote.

Correspondence was reviewed which included distribution to the committee of town and school budget analysis along with information on police cruiser purchase cycle and rotation of vehicles.

Additional agenda items and discussion points included:

  • Acceptance of Budget Committee by laws (7-0-0)
  • Process to post BC updates via social media has been reviewed with the IT Manager
  • NHMA Training (scheduled for June 27th BC meeting)
  • Budget Review Calendar
  • IT Expenses and Access
  • Submitted questions and responses provided by the Town Administrator
  • School budget review has been postponed to the May 23rd meeting – providing ample time for all committee members to receive and review analysis

Budget Files Reviewed:

*Due to file layout and size, the town and school analysis files are in MS Excel format.