The Timberlane Budget Committee has two meetings left before they are expected to approve the budget – three if you count Dec. 23, which is invariably cancelled – yet THEY HAVE NOT BEEN GIVEN THE FULL BUDGET. There is somewhere in excess of $67 million dollars on the line. This is an insult to conscientious members of the budget committee and an outrageous disservice to taxpayers. Very simply, your elected officials do not have enough time to fully digest and understand a budget of this scope. Last year the full budget was presented to the budget committee on Nov. 4 and even that was too late given the small number of meetings the budget committee schedules.
I believe these delays are ploys to hobble the budget committee whose ineffectiveness is guaranteed by late information. This year, late information serves the administration’s purposes even more than usual. Arthur Green, Cathy Gorman and I will be hosting a Town Hall meeting on Dec. 7 about the proposed budget. The less information we have about the budget, the less we can share with taxpayers and families. What is needed and should have been provided long before now are the full expenditures and the full revenues for the proposed budget. The revenues are important in order to understand the future tax impact which is never a subject of budget committee deliberations.
If you happen to watch the budget committee meetings on TV, you might think the committee is working, but what they have discussed to date is extremely fragmentary and decontextualized departmental budgets without salary information. This is a good start but it is only a start. Departmental budgets are a small fraction of the overall budget.
Especially disturbing is the administration’s failure to provide full financials for the 2013-2014 year that ended June 30, 2014 – more than FOUR months ago! Information about the last completed fiscal year is needed to analyze the proposed budget in light of previous history. Without this information, the last year we have is 2012/2013 which is three full years from the budget being worked on now.
As a result, Arthur Green, Budget Committee member from Sandown, has been forced to make repeated Right to Know demands of the district concerning budgetary information, Once this information is provided, we will have to pay for it at 50 cents a page out of our own pocket. Unfortunately, we are getting used to paying for public information we need to do our job. Below are Mr. Green’s time sensitive emails asking for information. Not one of these emails has been answered or even acknowledged to date.
NOVEMBER 2, 2014
Tax allocation details for 2014/15, covering the details typically provided in the Tax Assessment section (3 pages) of the district’s annual report:
- Proration factors based upon equalized valuation
- Proration factors based upon ADM
- Apportionment of appropriations
- Summary of town-by town Operating Assessment, Capital Assessment, Education Grant, Impact Fees, and Total Assessment Required from tax sources
- The monthly and year-end financials requested in the attached note were posted to the district web site on Nov. 6.
- Mr. Stokinger responded to a question by Mrs. Green at the Nov 6 School Board meeting, acknowledging that the district’s budget analysis of free full-time Kindergarten should not have included additional adequacy aid of $234,000. The administration did not acknowledge (or reply to) my note of Nov 2 pointing out that the adequacy aid formula for Kindergarten is capped at half day participation. This materially changes the budgetary impact of offering free full-time kindergarten.
- On October 26 I asked for clarification on whether the A12 staffing filings do or do not include vacant positions. I also asked for information on district-aligned positions which are not included on the school-by-school staffing reports. No response, no acknowledgement.
- On October 26 I responded to a note from Mr. Stokinger, in which he provided some public web links about some of the special ed providers used for out-of-district placements. Mr. Stokinger indicated in this note that he believed it responded to my request at budget committee for itemized information about those placements. No response, no acknowledgement.
- On October 22, I asked about the source and methodology of the enrollment forecast for 2015/16, since the district is forecasting enrollment substantially higher than the NESDEC forecast. No response, no acknowledgement.
- Year-end expenditures and revenues for the 2013/14 year, documenting the budgeted and actual expenditures for all items which are covered on the 2014 Annual Report, including (but not limited to) the following items not included on previously-provided financial reports:
- Transfer from unassigned fund balance
- Fund transfers: Food Service Fund – 5221
- Fund transfers: Federal Projects – 5222
- Fund transfers: Performing Arts Ctr Programs – 5223
- Grand total Expenditures
- Grand total Revenues
- A complete list of encumbrances as of June 30, itemized by Function code/object code