Tonight’s Budget Committee meeting was the saddest display of the Stockholm Syndrome I’ve ever seen in real life.
On March 26, 2015, the Timberlane Budget Committee voted to require the administration to give them certain budget information in a live spreadsheet format.
Tonight Mr. Stokinger told the budget committee that all they would get was a pdf file. The administration refuses to provide any elected official in the district with a spreadsheet format of any financial information whatsoever.
Tony Cantone of Plaistow argued powerfully that with a spreadsheet the budget committee could help the district identify items for the district’s management team to focus on. I’m paraphrasing his question: “If we are willing to do all the work to identify these items, why wouldn’t anyone want this?”
Lee Dube of Sandown said the committee needed more tools to do its job.
Clearly the district doesn’t want to enable the budget committee to do its job. That much is obvious. You, the taxpayer, can be left to ponder why. You should also ponder why the district doesn’t put all significant contracts out to bid. Or why the school board chairman signed a five year consulting contract for the superintendent’s wife without a vote of the board and without knowledge of the board months before the contract was due for renewal. Or why it was accepted at a facilities meeting on Tuesday morning that crumbling concrete stairs at a school hadn’t been repaired because Busby hadn’t gotten back to the district about it. Is there only one concrete contractor in the state of New Hampshire? I happen to know a very good one in Sandown – who donated his services for the shade pavilion at Sandown North.
Tonight’s display of utter spinelessness by your elected representatives can only be explained by an appeal to the famous Stockholm Syndrome where a captive sympathizes with his captors. The budget committee has long been refused the very basic tools to do their job and they are so used to it they feel they really don’t deserve it anyway and should be punished for even asking. Wake up guys. This isn’t North Korea. The people of this district are depending on you to do your job – not the hobbled pastiche of a job the administration prefers you to do.
Sandown’s Cathy Gorman and Plaistow’s Tom Geary were absent from the meeting. They were sorely missed because with them, Lee Dube and Tony Cantone might have felt less hopeless in trying to put up a fight.
Mr. Stokinger, the district’s Business Administrator, when asked why a spreadsheet would not be provided, would only say “Watch the April 9th meeting.” Well, I did watch the April 9th Budget Committee meeting and the word “spreadsheet.” or “Excel” was never uttered. The Budcom’s entire discussion on April 9th assumed a spreadsheet format would be provided as decided at the March 26, 2015 meeting.
I cannot emphasize enough how important a spreadsheet is for understanding a budget of the complexity of our district. That it is withheld from the budget committee at all is a disgrace. That it is withheld after a majority vote of the budget committee demanding it, is cause for grave concern.