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Author Topic: UL - Londonderry budget chairman: Voters deserve more information  (Read 1150 times)
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« on: April 06, 2007, 12:31:01 AM »

From the Union Leader

Londonderry budget chairman: Voters deserve more information
Union Leader Correspondent

LONDONDERRY – While voters recently approved a spending plan for fiscal 2008, the budget committee already has its sights set on town finances for the next fiscal year.

Late last month, the committee set goals such as refining town and school reports, updating the open-space plan, discussing future revenue growth for the town and looking into eliminating redundant town and school services.

Tom Freda, the committee's new chairman, said one of his top priorities is to provide the public with more information, such as the town's open space report and school district enrollment figures.

"We think this is information the voters should have," he said.

Freda said it's hard to vote on a $60 million school operating budget, for instance, if residents don't know the number of students.

Freda would also like to look at the long-term debt situation of the town, get pension and health insurance information earlier in the budget process, and work to eliminate duplicated services.

"To the extent that they are doing things that are similar, I don't see a need for two different departments," he said. "In the private sector, if two companies merge, they don't keep two HR (human resources) departments."

Freda also sees a benefit in having two new members on the committee.

"It's always a good thing to get more people involved," he said.

Elected last month were Tom Dolan, fresh off six years on the town council and resident Jay Hooley.

"It's all new to me," Hooley said. "It's tough to say where I think we'll make the most gain."

But he does have some suggestions on where the committee should be focusing.

"It's not always, 'what should we save, what should we not spend,'" Hooley said. It's also important to have an idea where the town's revenue possibilities lie, he said.

Hooley said he is looking forward to seeing what recommended projects will come out of the capital improvements program. He expects the proposed replacement northwest fire station, which was rejected by voters last month, to surface on next year's warrant.

"At the moment, I'm at the very front end of the learning curve of the process," Hooley said. "I'm definitely looking forward to digging in here."

One change the budget committee made for its new session is splitting up the workload. Some members will focus on the town side while others will focus on the school district. The members will then report back to the committee. Hooley said this enables individual members the chance to focus on areas of interest.

Glenn Douglas
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