To The Daily Sun,
There have multiple letters accusing Allen Voivod and me of petitioning to disband Gilford's Budget Committee on behalf of the School Board, and specifically, my wife, who is a school teacher. The truth, however, is much simpler. Allen and I served a combined nine years on the Budget Committee and objectively compared the negligible effect the committee had on the budget during the 2011-2016 time frame to the estimated 2,000-plus man-hours spent reviewing those budgets.
While others have offered only baseless speculation to substantiate keeping Gilford's Budget Committee, here is some data that supports disbanding it:
— Over the 2011-2016 span, the committee actually increased the Selectboard's recommended budgets it reviewed by an average of 0.03 percent per year. It did decrease the School Board recommended budgets, but by a mere 0.19 percent a year. In fact, the actual budgets presented to the taxpayers from 2011-2016 have netted only an average decrease of $13,000 a year (0.04 percent) as compared to the Selectboard/School Board recommended budgets! (Source: Town/ School via Right-to-Know request.)
The total net savings were only $79,126 of the $221,550,225 in budgets reviewed. Given the estimate, per the town, that every $100,000 increase or decrease in the budget affects the tax rate by 7 cents, that roughly equates to a paltry $14 pocketed over the past six years for a homeowner with a $200,000 house. Yes, that's $2 a year or so.
I ask proponents of the committee, what would the data need to show before you agreed there might be a more effective way to serve the taxpayers?
The petition is not an indictment on committee members' efforts. It is, however, both an acknowledgement that the committee is frustratingly ineffectual, and it is also a plea to try another tactic. The real power the taxpayer has is the deliberative session. One vote at a deliberative session can negate the entire 300 or so man-hours of work invested by the Budget Committee (not including significant town/school personnel time), as happened this year, where a single show-of-hands vote added $185,000 to the school budget.
If the Selectboard/School Board recommend excessive increases (despite the rhetoric to the contrary, the School Board recommended budgets increased by a prudent 0.9 percent a year from 2011-2016) in future budgets, we as taxpayers can vote them out, cut the budgets at the deliberative session, and/or even petition to reinstate the Budget Committee.
Vote "Yes" on Warrant Article 30.
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