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Warrant article in New Ipswich calls for disbanding Budget Committee

By Meghan Pierce
Union Leader Correspondent

March 04. 2018 9:02PM
The last article on the town warrant this year is a petition article asking the town to do away with the Budget Committee. (Meghan Pierce/Correspondent)

NEW IPSWICH — The last article on the town warrant this year is a petition article asking the town to do away with the Budget Committee.

Formed four years ago, the Budget Committee has come under fire from residents because it has failed to hold the Board of Selectmen accountable for town spending, said selectman candidate and current chairman of the Planning Board Bert Hamill Thursday.

The Budget Committee should be dissolved and replaced with a committee that can hold its own against the Board of Selectmen, Hamill said.

“Supposedly, the Budget Committee has the power over the budget and the select board rubber stamps it, that’s how it was supposed to work,” Hamill said.

The Board of Selectmen, however, has maintained control over the town budget, he said, adding many members of the Budget Committee aren’t up to the task of holding selectmen accountable on budget matters.

“They are virtually being run by Joe Handyman and Helen Housewife, who really didn’t understand the budget process,” Hamill said.

But according to Hamill, the petition article to disband the Budget Committee was prompted by a Budget Committee blunder to cut $170,000 from the police budget for training and certification.

The town could operate a police department without certified police officers, but criminal cases would be thrown out of court because the officers are not certified and the department would also have difficulty attracting police officers to a department that doesn’t pay to maintain training and certification, Hamill said.

“They have been floundering around for several years, trying to nickel and dime the different departments in town and that was the last straw,” Hamill said.

Hamill is running against incumbent David Lage.

Article 18 would rescind the 2014 town meeting vote to establish a budget committee. With the Budget Committee dissolved, selectmen would again be in charge of drafting and presenting a budget for voter approval.

Town meeting is scheduled for March 13 at Mascenic Regional High School from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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