By Paul Conyers
The Budget Committee met on Sept. 22 and discussed several quickly approaching events, notably the upcoming start of the annual budget process.
“We’re approaching budget season, I believe it’s November when some of the meetings start,” said Committee Chair, Steve Breault, referring to the annual budget process. “It’s basically from November to the beginning of February.”
The Committee is waiting to hear back from the School District as no formal dates for budget meetings are on the town schedule. The budget season typically starts with a meeting on the first Saturday of November. Members expect the first three weeks of December to be particularly busy.
Londonderry’s Community Service Grant is now active, and committee members were unsure why several applicants from last year, including the YMCA, Red Cross, and the Sonshine Soup Kitchen have not applied for the grant in 2022. Committee members pledged to follow up. Grant applications are open until Oct. 3.
The Budget Committee will go over grant applications in their next meeting. Members will also discuss how to distribute funds to every applicant.
Committee members also gave feedback on plans for the Capital Improvement Plan following a tour of the schools. Much of the feedback focused on immediate funding concerns highlighted in the Project overview, especially at Londonderry High School.
“How long is that wooden section of the High School going to last?” asked member, Tim Siekmann. Generally, everybody agreed with the Capital Improvement report on what should be immediately prioritized for the schools. There was some debate over several other schools in the district, especially South Elementary School
“I think what they’re doing, repairing sections of the older schools, is okay right now, I know that obviously, they need additions and replacements,” said Vice Chair, Jennifer Kenney. “Maybe they [the engineers] should provide pictures,” she added, hoping to see more concrete evidence of some damage that the Committee did not see on their school tours.
The Budget Committee will meet with the Planning Board on Oct. 12 to discuss recommendations for the Capital Improvement Plan while comparing their priorities to the priorities of the School Board. Regardless of what comes from the discussion, it was clear that no budget items for even the highest priority items on the Improvement Plan are likely to come up for a vote anytime soon.
“It’s at least three years, that’s the fastest you’re going to see anything on the ballot to do it right,” Siekmann said. “It’s not going to happen as fast as people want it to, the process is tied into too many things.”
The Department of Public Works came in under budget for 2022, in part due to employee turnover and some retirements. Director of Public Works, Dave Wholley, stated that Public Works needs a budget increase of 50% on vehicle maintenance and a 40% increase in the salt budget to keep roads clear next winter.
The next meeting of the Budget Committee is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m.