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Alstead disbands advisory budget committee yet it continues on

Union Leader Correspondent

April 15. 2018 10:00PM

ALSTEAD — An attempt to resurrect the advisory budget committee as a finance committee was dropped by selectmen Tuesday night.

Selectman Chairman Tim Noonan said the decision not to establish a finance committee was made after selectmen read in a newspaper article that the budget advisory committee had met and members of that committee decided they did not want to be part of the new finance committee proposed by selectmen.

The chairman of the now-disbanded advisory budget committee, M. Chris Hansen, said Thursday that committee members who want to remain active are meeting and deciding what to do next.

“We’re still concerned about the town and having efficient government, and we’re going to continue in various ways to raise our concerns,” Hansen said.

Selectmen disbanded the advisory budget committee on March 20.

Hansen said previous boards were open to the committee’s advice. He said the committee would often examine town spending to see where money could be saved and then bring those suggestions to the board.

One of the first things the committee did when it was created was a way to save money at the town transfer station.

Hansen said current members of the Board of Selectmen raised concerns about the legitimacy of how the advisory budget committee was formed and didn’t want the town moderator appointing and swearing in new committee members.

Noonan said selectmen were willing to establish a finance committee if committee members were interested, but this new committee would be appointed by selectmen and would work under rules created by selectmen, he said.

“They would not accept our terms,” Noonan said. “The meeting before we dissolved the budget committee — and what I did personally as chair — was I presented them with an option that if they wanted to we would reconvene a new committee under our rules and authority.”

Advisory budget committees and finance committees are considered the same under state law and are only governed by one paragraph in the RSA’s, Noonan said.

Noonan said the alternate name was chosen to distinguish between the former committee and the new committee. But none of the 12 members of the committee asked to be on the new panel.

The board had created the advisory budget committee three and half years ago, but did not write any bylaws for the group.

“What they did once they were authorized to exist was they wrote their own bylaws,” Noonan said, including that members would be appointed by the town moderator, not selectmen.

“What we wanted to do was ... we wanted to rein them in a little bit,” Noonan said. “They were getting aggressive; they almost got to a point where they became a parallel government.”

Most recently the advisory budget committee took issue with the town advertising for a road agent, writing the selectmen in a letter it should be advertising for a director of public works.

“Not only was it time consuming, but the bickering doesn’t lend itself to a community working together. What you have is two groups running the town. It just doesn’t work,” Noonan said. “They wouldn’t listen to us. Our idea of advisory if we want your advice we will ask for it and their idea of advisory is we’re going to tell you what we’re thinking whether you want us to or not.”

Local and County Government Alstead

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