By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — The two people from the Budget Committee who agreed to meet with two members of the School Board and two members of the general public about the preparation of the school district default budget walked out of their meeting last night.
Budget Committee Chairman Norman Silber left first after asking the school district's lawyer, Gordon Graham, if the administrators sign the default budget preparation form "under the penalties of perjury" and he initially replied no.
"I would have stayed a little longer if their lawyer agreed that the (Department of Revenue Administration) form said 'under penalties of perjury,'" he said later.
"It's like (peeing) on my leg and telling me it's raining," said Silber, who is also an attorney.
Silber added that by actually including members of the Budget Committee into the process of creating the default budget, it had the effect of co-opting the Budget Committee's job of reviewing it before it goes to the people at deliberative session.
"I told the superintendent I would attend a meeting to help better understand the process," he said, adding neither he or Greene knew they had created a committee.
Budget Committee member Sue Greene left shortly after Silber, telling the assembly that she didn't see any need for the Budget Committee's members to be there.
Greene also took note that the School Board hired Graham "at some expense" to come from Derry to the meeting and that the expenditure was "needless."
Meeting Chairman Chris McDonough said they decided to have their attorney there because Silber is an attorney. He said some of their brief conversations hinged on matters of law, so he felt the expense was justified.
"(The preparation of the default budget) can be left in (Assistant Superintendent for Finance) Scott (Isabelle's) capable hands," Greene said as she left.
The Gilford School Board Default Budget Committee was formed by the School Board to ameliorate some of the Budget Committee's and general public's need to understand how the annual default budget is prepared.
By law, the default budget for one year is last year's general budget plus or minus debt service and contractual agreements minus any one-time expenditures as determined by the governing body, which in this case is the School Board.
It is the "one-time expenditures" that riled the Budget Committee last year when $100,000 for the replacement for the "Imagination Station" or the playground at the Gilford Elementary School money wasn't removed from this year's default budget, in effect making the initial default budget higher that the proposed budget.
Budget Committee members considered it a one-time expenditure, meaning it isn't likely to recur in consecutive years, while the School Board considered it part of their ongoing special projects categories that have in the past included items like roofs, carpeting and parking lots repairs that can have a hefty price tag but aren't expensive enough to issue a bond.
Isabelle said Thursday night and has said in the past that he understands some of the misunderstandings and has suggested that the district enact a six-year maintenance plan for these project so taxpayers understand they are part of some of the more expensive maintenance required for school district property.
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