RSA 91:a Right to Know demand - relative to obeying State Statute on SB2 Budget Committees - Granite Grok

RSA 91:a Right to Know demand – relative to obeying State Statute on SB2 Budget Committees

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Yep, yet another RSA 91-A-athon from your’s truly on topics and issues I know best. I’ve been putting them off for a while; it’s been a longish past year with TMEW suffering from a 4-month bout with Shingles and then a total knee replacement this past March.

Wu Flu hasn’t helped either. However, she’s now much more mobile, we can all get out and around (mostly) again,  and as I just told someone on the phone, I can start pulling some stuff off the shelf that I had put onto the shelf before all this “taking away from blogging time” events came into play.

This time, to the Chair of the Gilford Budget Committee for a little known fact that most SB2 Budget Committees don’t seem to know about:

—— Original Message ——
From: “Skip” <Skip@granitegrok.com>
To: “Sean Murphy (murphy.sean71@gmail.com)” <murphy.sean71@gmail.com>
Sent: 6/25/2020 11:46:42 AM
Subject: RSA 91:a Right to Know demand – relative to obeying State Statute

Good morning, Sean

Unless something changed since the Town Elections back in March, I am assuming that you are still the Chair of the Gilford Budget Committee (“GBC”). Thus, you are receiving this RTK demand: State Statute, RSA 91:A, outlines an important responsibility of any SB2 Budget Committee of which Gilford is one:

TITLE III
TOWNS, CITIES, VILLAGE DISTRICTS, AND UNINCORPORATED PLACES

CHAPTER 32
MUNICIPAL BUDGET LAW

Budget Committee

Section 32:22

32:22 Review of Expenditures. – Upon request by the budget committee, the governing body of the town or district, or the town manager or other administrative official, shall forthwith submit to the budget committee a comparative statement of all appropriations and all expenditures by them made in such detail as the budget committee may require. The budget committee shall meet periodically to review such statements. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to mean that the budget committee, or any member of the committee, shall have any authority to dispute or challenge the discretion of other officials over current town or district expenditures, except as provided in RSA 32:23.
Source. 1993, 332:1, eff. Aug. 28, 1993.

Shall” being the operative word.  Please also note that there are no “emergency” clauses that give “an out” to Budget Committees for fulfilling this important duty.  For quite some time now, the GBC has been delinquent in performing this oversight to ensure that the Town and School Board budgets are being faithfully followed as voted upon by the Legislative Body which are the voters residing in Gilford.

Thus, I am looking for your remedy:

    • Why haven’t you called for such an oversight meeting?
    • If you have, and if it was held, where and when was the required public meeting notice given?
    • Are you planning on having one soon?
    • If so, what is the date of that meeting?
    • Will you just be having a rehash of the report that is given to the Selectboard, OR
    • Will it be done at the line item level for the greatest amount of transparency (as the GBC does during its budget season)?

Kindest regards,

-Skip
(former Vice-Chair, Gilford Budget Committee)

You know, a retired engineer turned blogger with some time on his hands and a better understanding of the Law, duties, and responsibilities than our appointed/elected officials, just wanting Government to do what it is supposed to be doing – and not beyond that. This whole budget oversight thing has been a bit frustrating. When Conservatives were in the majority three years ago, it was “ok, we have a job to do” and the GBC did it – at the GL line item level. Needless to say, the Progressives on the board at the time weren’t all that thrilled about doing it at all.

Yet, since I did my homework, I had some VERY pointed and unpleasantly received questions for employees about their budget, and specific line items within in those budgets, that they couldn’t answer.

The liaison from the Selectmen was not amused and I felt I had done the job required by Statute.

When the partisanship flipped, it was clear that “shall” (which in legalese means “you WILL do this, like it or not”) was going to get watered and it was – it was clear that a deal with made between Sean Murphy (no relation) and Scott Dunn (Town Administrator) that only the higher level quarterly financial update was to be given to the GBC against my protestations. Being outvoted, the Progressives made it clear that they didn’t want to waste the employee’s time (the Financial Director) in doing even more.

In effect, “Govt, just do what you want – this is lip service”.

I’m betting it will be more of the same; we’ll see, however.