To The Daily Sun,
As Gilford voters/taxpayers may remember, the school budget was rejected and therefore the default budget went into effect last year for the 2016-2017 school year. Last year was my first year as a Budget Committee member. A lot of what I have see has been very disheartening.
As a newbie, one of those things was that the assistant superintendent was telling us late in the budget season that we were in the 11th hour and really didn't have enough time to correct a $100,000-plus discrepancy in the default budget to the harm of the taxpayers. A couple of us — both new — voted against a motion to try to get this corrected, based on the "eleventh hour" comment.
To our great surprise, a couple of weeks later, when the School Board and "friends" wanted something changed that would benefit the school's "purse," the same assistant superintendent, told them that he could do it that same night. That was the first wake-up call.
Another thing that surprised me was the fact that when the BudCom was going over the individual line items there was one for electricity for each of the schools. We went right over them thinking it would be ridiculous to think about reducing them because you can't have kids in the dark. As it turns out, when they decided that their raises in pay were critical enough, they actually found an extra $40,000 in the electricity line items. Ultimately they gave themselves a total of $118,000 in non-contractual raises when they were theoretically functioning on a "bare-bones" default budget.
This makes me wonder how much of the rest of the budget is actually overestimated in order to produce a slush fund for whatever "they" might see fit down the road. There are other questionable tactics that appear deliberate to try to keep the BudCom members from doing what we have been entrusted to do.
In my opinion, you should vote to have the Budget Committee prepare the school default budget. I believe that in doing this, when the school is preparing their budget proposal, they would make it more realistic, whereas, if it is rejected, they will be functioning on a "real" default budget. The same group of people doing the proposed school budget and the proposed default budget, at least appears to be engaged in a conflict of interest.
Based on the above, and barring any new information, I will vote "Yes" on Article 8 Citizen Petition.
Harry H. Bean
- Category: Letters
- Hits: 173