2018 Raymond Budget Committee Meetings

Committee Forwards Reduced Town, School Budgets to Warrant
By Penny Williams     1-27-18

The Raymond Budget Committee wrapped up its hearings on Town and School budgets early, making its Jan. 18 meeting its final session and arriving at reduced budgets that will be presented at Deliberative Sessions.

Taking the Town budget first, the committee initially suggested cutting the Board of Selectmen's budget of $7,570,979 by $117,211 to $7,453,768. Town Manager Craig Wheeler objected to the reduced amount.

Wheeler discussed the Unassigned Fund Balance and noted that it had a negative $501,101 balance in 2012. He said that balance was raised to a positive $2,285,997 in 2016 and indicated this was a function of an increase in anticipated revenues, money that goes into that fund automatically and unspent appropriations.

He said this money is not surplus according to the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration (DRA), and to call it surplus would be a misnomer.

Wheeler said the proposed figure from the Budget Committee would make it harder for the Town to put the money needed into the Unassigned Fund to reach the DRA recommended 17 percent fund balance amount, and noted the Town is at 14 percent at present.

Wheeler said he does not support the proposed cuts, particularly for the fund balance, which can be used in an emergency and is a major savings account and safety net for the Town. He added that in the future, it could be used to reduce taxes. The fund balance also determines the credit-worthiness of Town. He said the fund needs to reach $3 million to $3.5 million.

The budget committee discussed the proposed cuts and member Richard Rousseau said the $117,211 figure was too much. He suggested an alternate amount of just over $60,000, which would reduce the bottom line to $7,510,131.

After a discussion of this amount, Wheeler said he would have to speak to the selectmen but he could live with that budget.

The committee also approved the Water Department operating budget, bringing the total budget to $8,292,209. The committee made a motion to approve it, and everyone except Chair Josh Mann voted in favor. The Default Budget amount will be $8.428,175.

Turning to the School District Operating Budget, Mann suggested a bottom-line figure of $24,052,360, which is $86,280 below the District’s administration-proposed budget to the school board.

Superintendent Tina McCoy discussed what the proposed cuts would impact, saying a proposed cut to the salary pool should be applied to the superintendent instead. She also noted that new software had been carefully chosen and a proposed cut would have a negative impact.

Discussion ensued about whether the budget cut would be to the bottom line or to specific function code lines, and heard that a revenue loss of almost $300,000 represents a 30 percent increase in the budget. The cut is made to the bottom line.

The committee said they were concerned about cutting the budget, but at the same time they had heard residents asking that cuts be made.

Committee member Joe Saulnier, who is also a School Board member, suggested reducing the budget by, among other things, cutting the Long Distance Learning teacher at $96,068 and the Wage Pool, at $3,000, for a total of $161,068. That would reduce the budget to $24,283,331.

Rousseau offered an alternate reduction amounting to $94,796 to cut the budget to $24,349,603. The committee discussed both suggested reductions and Rousseau made a motion to approve his, but it died for lack of a second.

The committee then looked at Saulnier's suggested reduction of $161,068, which would create a bottom line of $24,283,331. The committee approved that figure for the School District Operating Budget by a 5-1 vote, with Mann opposed. The Default Budget will be $24,425,410.

The Committee then voted on whether to recommend the Town and School Warrant Articles.

Mann voted against recommending Article 2, the School District operating budget; Article 3, the Collective Bargaining agreement with the Raymond Education Association (teachers’ union); and Article 6, to raise and appropriate up to $50,000 to place in the existing Equipment, Facilities Maintenance, and Replacement Capital Reserve Fund; all others voted to recommend those articles. The committee voted unanimously to recommend Article 5, to raise and appropriate $235,400 to place in Capital Reserve funds to implement the District’s Capital Improvement Program.

On the Town side the Budget Committee voted to recommend unanimously most of the articles; one member voted against Article 12, Social Services; two voted against Article 13, Mosquito Spraying; and one member voted against recommending Article 25, a citizen’s petition to pay for a firefighter.

The Budget Committee noted it had received several emails but voted not to read them into the public record because the writers were not present to discuss them.

The Budget Committee also voted to accept the resignation of David Wilson, whose term ends in March, and not to replace him until the Town Meeting vote. Wilson did not attend the Jan. 18 meeting.












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