Notes from the Board of Selectmen
After our Monday evening Board of Selectmen’s meeting, we felt it was important to reach out to our residents in an effort to provide you with important information regarding what we’re facing this year as we approach budget season – yes, it’s that time of year again! The Capital Improvement Programs (CIP) Committee has already begun to meet. They work to assist with long term planning for larger expenses, like Dump Trucks, Fire Trucks, Building Improvements, etc… These expenses are paid over a number of years and you would see them referenced in Warrant Articles on the Town Warrant.
The Finance Committee, a group tasked with reviewing all the budgets and making recommendations to the Board of Selectmen, begins meeting on November 1st. Their meetings are all open to the public, and the Board encourages residents to come and listen to the Department managers present their budgets. All Town meeting times and dates can be found on the Town Meeting Calendar on our Town Website.
This year preparation of the Town Budget will be a little more challenging than usual. In 2018, we’ve been operating with a default budget. Although it’s difficult to cover all our needs with less than what was requested, we’ve been able to “make due” in large part because we’ve had the ability to cover “contacted” items at the higher amount in our default budget. That has all changed for the 2019 tax year based on new legislation that was unfortunately supported by our local representatives. Next year, if a contracted service increases in cost, our default budget must use the last years’ approved cost if the operating budget fails to be passed by the voters. A clear example of the position we could find ourselves in involves our contract for dispatch services with Goffstown. In 2018 the Fire Department spent $3,800 for dispatch services, but in 2019 that contracted cost will go up to $15,000 (even with this increase, Goffstown provides the most cost effective option of any of the other vendors in NH). Should we find ourselves working with a default budget next year, the $11,200 difference in cost will need to be found somewhere else in the Fire Department budget – a difficult task when our budgets are so lean to begin with, and yet the department can’t run without dispatch services.
Another risk we’re facing if our Operating Budget fails to pass concerns the Town Halls’ IT systems. Our server is 3 years past Warranty and had a major failure this spring. Recovery took days and resulted in the Town Hall operations coming to an almost complete halt. If you were one of the residents who attempted to register your car that week, you know what we’re talking about. We are also facing the need to replace 12 of the 15 computers which are running on an operating system that will no longer be supported by Microsoft in January 2020. We will be asking for the money for these vital upgrades and hope the residents of the Town support us with their votes.
Please consider coming out to the Finance Committee meetings, the Public Budget Hearing and/or the Deliberative Session, and also stay tuned for more information from the Board of Selectmen over the coming months leading up to the March vote.
Thanks for your support,
New Boston Board of Selectmen
Joseph Constance Christine Quirk Rodney Towne