To The Daily Sun,
A couple of concerned citizens, in recent letters, have suggested that if not for the Gilford Budget Committee, certain town and school expenses would have been even higher in the past than they were. Let's set the record straight on this.
Without the Budget Committee:
1. Concerned citizens raise the exact same issues and make the exact same changes to the budgets at the Deliberative Session.
2. Voters still get to accept or reject a budget presented to them, after any Deliberative Session changes, on voting day.
3. The School Board and the Board of Selectmen become more directly accountable for their actions, and can easily be voted out if they don't control spending responsibly.
Whether it's the fire engine or the enrollment-to-staffing ratio or any other issue, there are still multiple opportunities to address these concerns without a Budget Committee.
People hearing the question "Will this make it past the Budget Committee?" are hearing it because the Budget Committee is often irrational. It debated an expenditure on replacement chairs worth less than $2,000 (out of a $12 million budget) across three committee sessions in last year's budget season, for example.
Some Budget Committee members also derail meetings with their own personal agendas, as one member did in last year's session by using committee time to question the Selectboard's representative during two separate meetings about the lighting of flags in the town after Labor Day — a topic not associated with a single budgetary line item.
The analysis that Fred Butler and I presented looked specifically at the financials presented to the Budget Committee by the Board of Selectmen and the School Board, year by year, and what the Budget Committee did with those numbers. And despite literally thousands of hours spent in the last seven years, the net effect was minuscule — roughly $2 per year in property taxes on a $200,000 home.
Hour for hour, dollar for dollar, the Budget Committee is an enormous waste of time. Please vote "YES" on Article 30, and let's focus our efforts to save taxpayer money where they really count.