What Does “Overspending” Mean?

At Monday’s board of selectmen’s meeting, Gordon Hunt, a member of the budget committee, and the selectmen called into question something that Chris Sawyer wrote in the Granite State News.

Chris, who is running for budget committee, stated in response to a candidate questionnaire from the paper:

This past year the selectmen took $350,000 out of the undesignated fund balance to offset overspending.

Gordon, quoting from the minutes for the selectmen’s November 6, 2017, meeting, said, “the selectmen took $350,000 from the unexpended fund balance to reduce taxes for the upcoming year.“¹

He then quoted Chris’s candidate profile from the paper and asked, “Do I interpret that as being a mistake on the part of someone?”²

Selectman Chip Albee concurred, saying it was a “mistake on whoever-said-that’s part.” Bill Marcussen chimed in, “yup.”

But why would the tax rate need to be reduced in the upcoming year?

Because spending is up. Every year the operating budget increases, in recent years by 5-10%. This year the proposed budget is increasing spending by 4%, although the amount to be raised by taxes is increasing by almost 12%.

Gordon and Bill stated in yesterday’s meeting that by law the selectmen cannot spend more than the total budget amount, therefore they cannot “overspend.” This is a word game. Chris did not write that the selectmen had overspent the budget. She stated they used the $350,000 (raised from taxes in previous years) “to offset overspending.”

Many people in town believe that we spend too much money, that we overspend. Many others in town disagree and would like to spend even more.

This is a difference of opinion. 

We have an election next week on Tuesday, March 13.

If you would like independent thinkers who won’t automatically vote for every spending increase proposed by the selectmen, then please vote for Chris and Barry Ennis.

1. The terms “unexpended,” “unassigned,” and “undesignated” are all used interchangeably to describe funds that are left over in town’s bank account. The fund balance accumulates when money that is appropriated for a given year is not expended. For instance, if a department has a budget of $100,000 for the year but spends $95,000. In that case, $5,000 is left over in the fund balance.

2. In keeping with an obsession with secrecy that pervades in town, Gordon did not use Chris’s name even though her statement was published publicly in the paper and can be read by anyone.

Max Ledoux

Author: Max Ledoux

I've lived in Tuftonboro since 2014. I grew up in Lisbon Falls, Maine (the Moxie capital of the world). I run tuftonboro.net.

2 thoughts on “What Does “Overspending” Mean?”

  1. Max: What concerns me is some of the town’s self proclaimed budget hawks such as Chris Sawyer and Bob McWhirter propose cutting spending in one area and simply redirecting it to pet projects in other areas. Case in point: Chris recently complained about the condition of Federal Corner Rd to the Selectman and suggested it needs to be resurfaced. Is this a need or a want? Clearly a want from my perspective as someone who often travels on unpaved town roads. Why would we ever consider spending money on a perfectly fine road such as Federal Corner Road? Yet Bob McWhirter drives down Federal Corner Road in his campaign video prominently displayed on this site and makes note of one his campaign signs on Chris’ property while talking about spending more money on Federal Corner Road! Count me as unimpressed.

  2. I’ll be the first to suggest that we let Durgin Road, where I live, go back to dirt. Unfortunately nobody asked me and it was repaved last summer.

    We all use the roads. I don’t think repaving a road is a pet project.

    I think the roads, the transfer station, the fire department, and the police are the most important things we need to spend money on.

    Budgeting is about prioritizing. Some people think roads are more important than an addition to the library, others don’t. This is ok.

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