Memories of Budget Votes Past

Guest Contribution by Arthur Green

Let’s set the record straight on the budget committee’s role in the Sandown North playground funding and the sprinklers.

The Tri-Town Times of July 9, reporting on the cancellation of the $90,000 Sandown North playground project, concluded misleadingly with the following unattributed words:

Up until the budget committee’s final meeting prior to the public hearing, the above funds were included in the proposed operating budget, but they were removed by the budget committee in a 5-4 vote, with both Sandown representative, Arthur Green and Cathy Gorman, voting against.

This is not the first time my voting at that meeting has been brought to public attention.  At the June 4 School Board meeting, Supt. Metzler reminisced over the votes Cathy Gorman and I cast against the $265,000 sprinkler system proposed for Sandown North.

Events have shown that the votes against these items cast by me and Ms. Gorman were absolutely correct.

Contrary to the report in the Tri-Town, the expanded playground was a last-minute addition, and was never before the budget committee prior to the final Dec 23, 2014 meeting. The same is true of the sprinkler system for Sandown North.

Some choice video clips concerning these two projects will surprise you.

Here’s the budget committee being assured on Dec. 11, 2014 that the $744,000 savings from Sandown Central take account of all offsetting costs of the consolidation.  Less than 24 hours later the sprinklers and playground project are added to the budget for the first time.

Here is Dr. Metzler assuring the budget committee on Dec. 23, 2014 that $265,000 is a “conservative number” and will “confidently” pay for the sprinklers with water.  (The number is mentioned earlier in the meeting but is clearly stated later and captured in the clips below.) We find out in June that the number is really $521,000.

Now you can hear my statement at the Dec. 23 meeting as to why I was voting against the sprinkler system.  Here Dr. Metzler tells the committee that a sprinkler could still be installed out of surplus regardless of the budget committee’s vote:

Listen to Supt. Metzler’s explanation at the June 4 School Board meeting why the sprinkler system cost estimate had gone from $265,000 to $521,000 (because the original estimate didn’t include “water”).

Here Supt. Metzler muses that if Green and Gorman hadn’t stripped $250,000 from the budget for Sandown North sprinklers, he could have combined that money with the money voted at Deliberative for sprinklers at Danville to almost completely fund sprinklers at Sandown North.

The following letter from me and Cathy Gorman corrects the record and was run in the July 16 Tri-Town:

Contrary to the claim in “North School Not Likely To Get Expanded Playground This Year” (July 9 Tri-Town), the expanded playground was a last-minute addition to the proposed budget, and was never before the budget committee prior to the final Dec 23, 2014 meeting.

Sandown and district residents should also be aware that:

The playground expansion was NOT part of the facilities improvement budget proposed in November.  The same is true of the sprinkler system for Sandown  North.

It was NOT in the facilities improvement 3 year or 5 year plan.  The same is true of the sprinkler system for Sandown North.

At the Dec. 11 budget committee meeting, when defunding Sandown Central was first put before the committee, the administration repeatedly assured the committee that the stated $744,000 saving included all offsetting costs.  But, less than 24 hours after that meeting, the administration posted a new budget draft which suddenly included an additional $90,000 for playground expansion and $260,000 for a sprinkler system.

When these items were deliberated at the next (and final) budget committee meeting Dec. 23, the administration assured the committee that these improvements were NOT required for the consolidation.  No documentation or details were provided beyond the simple dollar amount on the draft budget.

The Tri-Town appears to have been misinformed when it reported that “Up until the budget committee’s final meeting … the above funds were included in the proposed operating budget”.

We have learned over recent months that:

$260,000 for a sprinkler system was a gross underestimate.  A more accurate figure is over $500,000.

The playground project as proposed requires only $65,000.

We continue to stand behind the votes we cast on these ill-considered, last-minute budget increases. We have consistently recommended that the consolidation requires a thorough and public process, which has not yet taken place.

Arthur Green  Past Member, Timberlane Budget Committee
Cathy Gorman  Member, Timberlane Budget Committee

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