M/cloudy
63°
M/cloudy
Hi 85° | Lo 66°

Rindge

Town prepares petition for Special Town Meeting

Timeline for new budget process drafted, but not final

  • The Rindge Select Board discusses its plan to petition the Cheshire County Superior Court to hold a Special Town Meeting for the purpose of implementing a 12-month budget.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    The Rindge Select Board discusses its plan to petition the Cheshire County Superior Court to hold a Special Town Meeting for the purpose of implementing a 12-month budget.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Dan Aho, Rindge's newest Select Board member, was sworn in on March 20 at the town offices.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Dan Aho, Rindge's newest Select Board member, was sworn in on March 20 at the town offices.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Rindge Select Board discusses its plan to petition the Cheshire County Superior Court to hold a Special Town Meeting for the purpose of implementing a 12-month budget.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    The Rindge Select Board discusses its plan to petition the Cheshire County Superior Court to hold a Special Town Meeting for the purpose of implementing a 12-month budget.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Rindge Select Board discusses its plan to petition the Cheshire County Superior Court to hold a Special Town Meeting for the purpose of implementing a 12-month budget.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Dan Aho, Rindge's newest Select Board member, was sworn in on March 20 at the town offices.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • The Rindge Select Board discusses its plan to petition the Cheshire County Superior Court to hold a Special Town Meeting for the purpose of implementing a 12-month budget.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

RINDGE — The town is expected to petition the Cheshire County Superior Court in Keene next week for authorization to hold a Special Town Meeting in order to adopt a 12-month budget.

The Select Board voted unanimously on March 20 to petition the court, after voters rescinded a 2012 vote at the polls earlier this month that would have changed the town’s fiscal year with a one-time 18-month budget. But Rindge must wait a minimum of 10 days of the vote to hold a Special Town Meeting before it can file the petition with the court, according to Town Administrator Carlotta Lilback Pini.

“After Saturday the petition can be filed,” Pini said in an interview with the Ledger-Transcript on Wednesday. “Town counsel is working on a draft now.”

The Select Board is scheduled to meet April 3 and, at that time, Pini said the board will suggest a proposed date for Rindge’s Special Town Meeting that will then be included in the court petition.

At the Select Board’s meeting last week, Pini discussed with the board a tentative timeline for the development of a 12-month budget. She said the board could hold a public hearing on April 29, post the warrant on May 8, hold deliberative session on June 1 and then a Special Town Meeting on June 30. But those dates depend on Superior Court permission to hold a Special Town Meeting and the date it sets for the meeting.

“Our attorney thinks it’s likely that we will be granted a Special Town Meeting, but it is not guaranteed,” Pini said. “From what I’m being told, this is uncharted territory; there has not been another town in the state of New Hampshire that has ever gone through this before.”

Rindge’s predicament recalls that of Jaffrey in 2011 when voters voted down the town’s proposed operating budget without agreeing on an alternative.

Though a majority of voters cast their ballot on March 12 in favor of the 18-month, $5,424,329 operating budget, the vote to rescind the fiscal year conversion takes precedence and the 18-month budget is not applicable, according to town officials. Now the town is without a budget, and likely could be until June, or midway through its Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 fiscal year.

Select Board Chair Sam Seppala said he would like to see the town hold a Special Town Meeting in early June, if possible, rather than wait until June 30. The sooner the town can implement a budget, the better, he said.

Pini suggested that the Select Board develop a plan for how the Select Board, Budget Advisory Committee and department heads can work together in the weeks ahead. “I think everyone would agree that things didn’t go well last time and we’d like to do better, but what does better look like?” she asked.

At the town’s deliberative session in February, Budget Advisory Committee Chair Tom Coneys made a motion to reduce the proposed 18-month budget of $5,424,329 by $104,329 through cuts to town staffing, employee hours and increases in employee contributions to health and dental care premiums. Coneys’ motion — which failed in a secret ballot vote, 66 No votes to 39 Yes votes — was strongly criticized by the outgoing Select Board, Pini and a handful of residents, who questioned why the committee waited until the town’s deliberative session to propose such a significant monetary cut.

Select Board Member Roberta Oeser said last week that she believes the 2013 budget will be slightly higher than the 2012 budget of $3.6 million, but that there are opportunities to find savings. “And I’m not saying cutting services,” she said.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.