Impossible to Cut Spending?

Helen Hartshorn is running for reelection to the Budget Committee. At last week’s Candidates’ Night, she said:

A couple of years ago, we did talk on the Budget Committee . . . about keeping the spending flat, and it just didn’t work, because with inflation, with salary increases… Then there was also the salary consultation that was done. It just didn’t work to keep these things flat. And I just don’t think that’s a realistic approach to it.

Tyler Philips, a former member of the budget committee, asked: “Are you committed to controlling those costs that are controllable?” Many costs are not within the control of the town, given that “we get more and more costs pushed at us from Concord,” he noted. “But would you be agreeable to keeping a cap on controllable costs?”

I added to his question, by asking: “What are the controllable costs?”

Helen replied: “That’s just too broad a question.”

I tried again: “Can you name an area in which we do have controllable costs where you would be willing to make them level?”

Helen: “I will work to keep things as reasonable as possible, and that’s about all I can pledge you.”

I emailed Helen today to ask her again, “What are the controllable costs, the areas where the town can keep spending level or even reduce spending?”

If she replies and gives me permission to post her words, I will share them with you.

5 thoughts on “Impossible to Cut Spending?”

  1. Can someone please give me an estimate of how much the tax rate will increase if all of the current ballot initiatives are approved at the upcoming meeting in March? Understanding this information is crucial to a constructive conversation in my opinion. Thank you.

  2. The warrant articles will be paid for using money that’s already been raised through taxes in previous years. This is the reason the selectmen and budget committee always over-budget every year. At the end of the (fiscal) year there’s usually around $100,000 in the budget that didn’t get spent. Everyone pats their own back for saving money, and certainly some departments deserve credit for not overspending, but the money stays in the unassigned fund balance. Then in the following year it is taken out for warrant articles. This is how the budget increases every year without people realizing. People have this idea that the money in the unassigned fund balance is “free.” The warrant articles even used to misleadingly state, “no funds to come from taxation.” Chip, to his credit, pointed out how dishonest that was and the other two agreed (but never brought it up themselves previously).

  3. That’s partially true. However, don’t forget we’ve been funding the Library Capital Reserve Fund every year with left-over money that’s in the undesignated fund balance.

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