Published Date Written by Gail OberBELMONT – Sixty-five people led by school board member Richy Bryant of Belmont have petitioned an article on to the Shaker Regional School Board warrant that, if it passes on Friday night, will create a Budget Committee for the school district.
In a letter he sent to The Daily Sun, Bryant noted the annual budget before the voters this year is approaching the $21 million annual mark and he thinks doubling the number of people who are involved with its development would foster greater transparency it its creation.
Also signing the petition was Belmont School Board member Donna Cilley, who when campaigning for her seat last year said she also supported enacting SB-2 or the Official Budget Act for the district.
Traditionally, Shaker Regional board members have been opposed to both the prospect of a budget committee and adoption of SB-2.
Last year 55 voters in the regional school district that covers Belmont and Canterbury signed a petition that put SB-2 onto the ballot. While the majority of those who went to the annual school district meeting supported the measure, it needed 60 percent of those voting to pass and it failed by a vote of 312 to 252.
In 2008, a petitioned warrant article for SB-2 was defeated by a vote 213 to 261 — the initiative failing to garner even a simple majority.
According to the minutes of the February 6 School Board meeting, Canterbury members Bob Reed and Diane O'Hara made and seconded a motion not to support the creation of a budget committee.
When the vote was taken, Cilley and Bryant supported establishing a budget committee, while Canterbury's Heidi Hutchinson, Reed and O'Hara didn't not.
Also voting against the budget committee idea was Sean Embree of Belmont, although he said at Monday's candidate's night that although he voted against it at the meeting, he would support whatever the voters supported.
Outgoing Chair Pret Tuthill said yesterday that he didn't support a budget committee but didn't vote because the chair only votes to break a tie.
Tuthill has resigned his seat citing increase pressure from his business as a reason, while O'Hara has chosen not to seek re-election.
The budget committee article needs a simple majority to be adopted.
Should the measure pass, the budget committee would consist of seven members of the Belmont-Canterbury community plus one member from the school board who is chosen by the members of the school board. For the first year, the district moderator shall appoint within 15 days of the enactment all of the members except the School Board representative. Thereafter, members would be elected.
Under New Hampshire law, official budget committees have the obligation to review the relevant town and school district budgets and make recommendations to voters. It is the budget committees recommendations that then appear on the warrant.
The annual Shaker Regional School District meeting is Friday night at Belmont High School. Voting for elected offices begins a 6 p.m. and the annual district meeting begins at 7 p.m.