Budcom Suffers Stockholm Syndrome: Committee Crumbles Along with Stairs

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.

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12 Comments

Filed under Sandown Issues

12 responses to “Budcom Suffers Stockholm Syndrome: Committee Crumbles Along with Stairs

  1. Mark RI

    Solution:immediately cut the information technology-related budget to ZERO.

    • The legal line should be cut to zero. The technology line for the SAU cut to zero? But we’d have to pay for the slate and chalk to upgrade them from their current counting with sticks and pebbles.

  2. Suzanne Finocchiaro

    Hello,

    I just thought I would pass on that there are ways to open PDF files in Excel with converter apps and/or just parsing out. Google converting PDF to Excel and there is a plethora of information.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • Yes, thank you. A number of people are sending me the same information. The issue is that it is a lot of work and doesn’t always work properly and the budcom should not be required to do this. A spreadsheet format is an output of the financial software the district uses. They actively select pdf output or spreadsheet output. Both are a click of a button. What is going on is obstructionism. Can we get around it? Well, with a great deal of effort. But are we paying for the services of an SAU to thwart us or to assist us? Right now the SAU is the budget committee’s biggest problem.

  3. Erich Beyrent

    It’s possible that they don’t want to provide a spreadsheet because they don’t want the numbers and data tampered with. A PDF essentially locks that data in. Of course, they could provide a locked read-only spreadsheet…

    I see no real reason why the district should not provide a spreadsheet containing a revision number and date. I wish they’d provide a logical and rational reason why they won’t.

    • WDR

      I use Excel extensively at work. It has an option too that the author can lock it so no one can make unwanted or unnecessary changes. Spreadsheets can easily be shared without changes not authorized by its author

  4. Cathy

    My email to the TRBC earlier today:

    Hello All,

    I have needed to convert the budget from .pdf to excel since I have served on this committee.
    I will provide this to the committee if the SAU refuses to acknowledge a BudCom vote.

    Please do not reply to all. Please note: sharing of this document does NOT constitute a meeting. I will make it public that the document has been share as a “tool” for BudCom members to use at their discretion; no RSA 91-A violation.

    There is a Budget/Finance workshop on Tuesday for those that require clarity on what constitute a “meeting” and roles and responsibilities of BudCom members.

    KR
    Cathy

  5. Curt Springer

    They should distribute an unlocked excel spreadsheet and also a pdf to record the baseline of what was distributed.

  6. Mark Acciard

    With all due respect Stokinger AND Metzler work for YOU. They work for the SB!

    They have NO LEGAL AUTHORITY over the Bud Com, and neither does the SB. Despite the protestations of the hapless Mrs. O’Neill when she was purported to be running it.

    Therefore when you ask a question of Mr. Stokinger, and he gives you the flip reply to watch a meeting, DEMAND he answer your question.

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