Guest Contribution by Arthur Green
The Timberlane School Board will meet Tuesday night, Dec. 6 at 6 pm, to discuss the district’s Draft 2 proposed budget and the Default Budget.
The administration has signaled that the the default budget will be very close to the $71.5 million draft 2, so we can anticipate that once again the voters will have the choice between a bloated proposed budget versus an even higher default budget.
By my calculation, the default budget ought to be $70, 171,000. That’s about $25,000 below this current year’s budget, and about $1.4 million less than the Draft 2 proposed budget.
Here is what the state’s MS-DS form requires the school board members to attest:
SCHOOL BOARD OR BUDGET COMMITTEE CERTIFICATION Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined the information contained in this form and to the best of my belief it is true, correct and complete.
The default budget exists as a measure of taxpayer protection. The school board has the power to nullify this protection by passing a default budget higher than the proposed budget, thus assuring that the voters will approve what the school board asks. The school board members have a fiduciary duty to the taxpayers to create a default budget which removes one-time expenditures, and thus gives the taxpayers a real choice.
The RSA governing default budgets states that
.. one-time expenditures shall be appropriations not likely to recur in the succeeding budget, as determined by the governing body
Some might read this to say that the school board has the latitude to decree that a particular expenditure is one-time or recurring.
My read is that the board has a duty to identify and remove those expenditure which are in fact one-time.
It is said that Lincoln had a quip:
How many legs does a dog have if you call his leg a tail? Four. Saying that a tail is a leg doesn’t make it a leg.
And calling a one-time expenditure “recurring” doesn’t make it so.
Now here is a default budget as I believe it should be: responsible-choice-default-budget-2017-18