Public Hearing for SAU Budget

Tomorrow night, Nov. 18, SAU55 is holding a public hearing on their 2016/17 budget.

2016-17 Proposed SAU Budget Notice with Detail (2)

The budget is up 30% over two years.  Here are other things people generally don’t know about the SAU’s budget.

  • Only the SAU board can change the SAU budget.
  • Voters have no say over the SAU budget.  They can neither approve nor reject the budget, and they have no power to change so much as a single line of it.
  • The SAU budget is inserted as a single line item into the budgets of Timberlane and Hampstead School Districts.  This is the ONLY line in both school district budgets that cannot be changed by citizens at Deliberative.
  • In March 2013 district citizens voted to separated the SAU budget from the school districts budgets on the strength of a successful citizen’s petitioned warrant article (promulgated by Jorge Mesa-Tejada in Hampstead, and your humble correspondent in Timberlane).  This meant that voters could reject the SAU budget and put it into default. That is exactly what happened in March of 2014. Ironically, the March 2014 election also saw another citizen’s petition  reverse the previous petition, putting the SAU budget for 15/16 once again  into the school districts’ budgets. This stripped voters of any subsequent say about the SAU’s relentless salary and expense increases. Sandown citizens voted in the majority in 2014 to keep the SAU budget separate, but they were outvoted by the other towns in the district.
  • Not a single cut was made to the SAU’s proposed budget by the SAU board. The merit pool increase for employees was not even mentioned or disclosed.
  • Voters’ only dim hope is to pressure the SAU board into reducing the budget at the SAU’s public hearing tomorrow night.

*I previously reported that Timberlane’s portion of the SAU budget can be rejected only if the entire budget for Timberlane goes to default. That is not correct.  Even if Timberlane’s budget goes into default, the SAU still gets every cent it asked for.  Rotten state of affairs, but there you go.

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
 – Omar Khayyam (not writing about the SAU budget in 1942)

 

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16 Comments

Filed under SAU 55 Issues, Taxes

16 responses to “Public Hearing for SAU Budget

  1. Donna,

    There are many lines that “can’t be touched at deliberative.”

    Every member of the SAU Board is a citizen and a voter in either Timberlane or Hampstead.

    There are several reasons for the increases. We’ve moved lines from Timberlane to the SAU, insurance has been up and we increased the retirement benefit line under the recommendation of the administration knowing some unnamed employee(s) will require that money in the 16-17 year.

    Please, represent accuracy and let’s stop throwing bombs in the form of half truths.

    Rob

    • “Moving lines from Timberlane” is certainly a half truth. That amounts to peanuts and has no significant effect on the budget increase.

      What other lines can’t be touched at deliberative? Those relating to contracts would have non-appropriation clauses. Can only think of principal and interest on a bond. Workers’ comp? If voters cut the size of workforce, that would also need to be adjusted.
      Pls respond with specifics and stop throwing bombs yourself.

    • mark Acciard

      the better question Rob, is why the voters are prohibited from changing the SAU budget at Deliberative session? Given that they are on the hook to pay it.

      • That’s the way the SAUs are set up. Has nothing to do with Timberlane specifically, just a rotten arrangement by legislators way back when. They failed to give taxpayers a check and balance on the SAU budget and thought the SAU board would do that but as we all know, most boards are just rubber stamps for those they are charged with overseeing.

  2. One other thing that is incorrect, the SAU budget is in the default TRSD budget as well as the proposed.

  3. MJ

    Would nice if Rob Collins could be as direct, correct his errors and actual respond to specific questions!

    Like….How much was moved from Timberlane to SAU budget? what percent is it of their total budget?

    What specific lines items can not be changed at deliberative, beyond contracts and bonds?

    Why is the SB/SAU accepting these HUGE insurance increases and not actively looking for better plans/prices?? It seems they just nod their heads and up the budget

  4. All SAU Board meetings are now on Vimeo so anyone can check out the full detail if they wish here:

    https://vimeo.com/channels/ten

    Regarding the last two years.

    This year ~$50K was moved from Timberlane budget lines to the SAU budget. That is a net decrease for TRSD as that money is offset by contributions from Hampstead once moved to the SAU.

    Last year we added a position ($80K) to help with the inordinate amount of work produced by a very small amount of citizens. As a government agency TRSD has to respect and honor the right to know law. As a result many hours are spent to accomplish this goal…with very little to no appreciation by the way.

    This year we added back into the budget funding to accommodate potential retirement contractual obligations to the tune of ~ $75K as the administration has information that one or more SAU employees will be retiring in the 16-17 year.

    Also this year we’ve added to the budget software for $33K that is needed to provide proper reporting as required by the ACA for the 1,000 employees receiving healthcare benefits.

    Regarding the lines available to be adjusted at deliberative session, I believe it is defined by RSA. They are high level and large amounts and represent the total of many, many lines beneath them. You can state “I want to cut $10K belonging to some sub line” but the SB does not have to honor that, normally we do but we are not required by law. What normally happens is someone proposes a cut to the bottom line and the SB and Administration figure t out from there. That’s what we do!

    • Transfer from TRSD to SAU was not 50K. It was $32k.
      The 80k position added to the budget last year has not been filled which is an indication of how necessary it is. Furthermore it is a human resource position and has nothing whatsoever to do with RTK requests. The district receives RTK requests only because it hides public information that other districts just post on their website as a normal matter of course. If the SAU has a problem with RTK requests it should look at its own behavior and not punish the taxpayer.

      The software cost for this year for the HR software is $56K and I moved to eliminate the unfilled HR position if the software is purchased. The SAU board voted this down. More software and more people! Give me MORE! This is not management; it is runaway budgeting.

      I’m surprised Rob did not mention the increase in health insurance. Go to a cheaper plan or lay off people or find the money from savings in other areas. That is the reality of life in all other businesses but the SAU is a monopoly with an SAU board that can’t find a penny to cut.

      The public hearing actually increased the budget by $49,000!

      As to what the legislative body can change at Deliberative in terms of budget lines, I am calling DRA on this question because there is conflicting information on this issue.

      • It is $50K, $32K for the computers/software and another $18K for the courier.

        I remember the software being less than $56K, I believe it is $33K, but I’m going off of memory and willing to concede the point.

        I did not mention the GMR for heath insurance because it was not an issue in your original post. There was a good discussion around why you cannot do what you are suggesting at the meeting last night. Why didn’t you reference that?

        I’m not sure how the open position is listed or what their role is but we added the $80K to address the huge increase in OT required by the RTK requests. How the SAU managed that and/or moved positions around I don’t know for sure.

        The SAU does not hide information. Have you ever had a RTK request of information that is available turned away? Even your lawsuit isn’t about not getting the information, it’s about not getting it in the format you require.

        Let’s be truthful pease. It doesn’t do anyone any good to be otherwise.

      • $32k includes the courier. 18,500 courier, 4500 Edulog, 8,073 Subs calling, and technology 2200.

        I haven’t had an RTK request turned away because everything I had to ASK for was PUBLIC information and therefore legally owed to me. Having said that I should add that not all my requests or Mr. Green’s have been fully satisfied. I will not comment on your characterization of my lawsuit.

        Please don’t lecture me about truthfulness because you are the king of spin.

      • I just looked it up and you are correct about the $32K. My mistake and I apologize.

        If you haven’t had a RTK turned away then how can you say the SAU hides information?

        I think it would make sense for you to add the discussion around your suggestion of looking elsewhere for insurance, no?

    • mark Acciard

      Rob, if the District made public info public, there would be no need for a person to deal with RTK requests. Let alone $80K,

  5. mark Acciard

    Rob, you can say it hides info in that it makes the taxpayer jump through hoops by filing RTK requests, and paying fees to get info that should already be posted publicly on the website.

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