According to several school superintendents in New Hampshire this lease purchase statute was designed to buy buildings, not just equipment, and it also, according to their reading, allows an SAU to lease purchase – even though an SAU is not a governing body.
33:7-e Lease Agreements of Equipment. – The governing body may enter into leases of equipment as required by the municipality. Appropriations to fund lease agreements with nonappropriation clauses may be approved by a simple majority vote of the legislative body. Lease agreements with nonappropriation clauses shall not be treated as debt under RSA 33:4-a. For the purposes of this section, “lease” shall include lease-purchase, sale and lease back, installment sale, or other similar agreement to acquire use or ownership of such equipment as is from time to time required by the municipality. For purposes of this section and RSA 382-A, building or facility improvements related to the installation, purpose, or operation of such equipment shall be deemed to constitute equipment and the costs of such improvements may be financed through lease agreements under this section.
Source. 1999, 35:1, eff. July 10, 1999. 2014, 60:1, eff. July 26, 2014.
So simple even a school superintendent can’t read it.
I spent over an hour at the DRA last Friday regarding the attempt by Hills/Deering to lease purchase about one million dollars of portable classrooms to be fashioned into a 60’ x 60’ building. A building that would, like the others on this campus, be assessed as portable classrooms. In other words – real estate. I have the assessment card for the school. Portables are buildings and also are part of the debt limit for school borrowing (Another glitch in this scheme.)
The school superintendent had a lease purchase plan, like the one the District used last year to upgrade the boiler system for a paltry $2.6 million. And as they did last year the lease purchase plan would be folded into the Operating Budget so voters could not vote it down.
I stopped by the Hills/Deering SB meeting and explained how the legislative body was, by law, to have a vote on this lease purchase. And if you believe the past DRA policy as expressed in NH Practice and Procedure, Book #16 Chapter 2, the legislative body is supposed to have a vote on a lease purchase annually.
The Board voted to hold off on the vote that night and take it up at the next meeting. I am on that agenda.
Then they can also address any failure to comply with my RSA 91-A request for the documents and legal advice for the current building project. They feel that any communications between the District counsel and the Board is confidential and denied my RSA 91-A request.
When I requested the previous lease documents and legal advice for the completed boiler upgrade they gave it to me – 560 pages. So why is this current lease-purchase project exempt from the Right to Know Law?
I would suggest everyone look at their own town and school spending plans for a scheme like this in their budgets.
The DRA is supposed to get back to me and I hope they understand what a mess this lease purchase scam would create statewide if it is not stopped in this budget cycle.
This type of building project requires a bond and a bond has to follow a legal process and a separate vote. The lease purchase of a building is a scam.