"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

CIPC and Citizen's Petitions

The CIPC has voiced concerns, and rightly so, that we can't plan for the unforeseen.  A capital improvements forecast is only as good as the information it receives. Any 25 citizens can petition for pretty much anything they want with no real limit on cost to taxpayers, and all they need at town meeting is a majority of votes. It's the law and that is the way it is. The red flag that CICP Chair Jordan Prouty brought up last week when the CIPC report was presented, was that  a costly petitioned warrant article has the potential to play havoc with the budget.
We cannot require any group of citizens to make their case to the CIPC ( as department heads must do). What the CIPC is suggesting is that it would be in the best interest of the town and fellow taxpayers ( many of whom cannot vote) if they voluntarily did this.
No one can predict whether an article will pass or not, but at least based upon the CIPC review, we can determine a contingency in case it does. It may mean pulling funding from other projects to keep the budget and tax rate at desirable levels. It may mean moving more money than planned from the general fund balance to offset the tax rate. Not always a good thing. Look at what that has done to the county for example.
The bottom line is that all we can do is appeal to citizens to recognize that the CIPC and BoS have the big picture in mind and while not discouraging anyone from properly petitioning a special warrant article in excess of $10,000, it would be very helpful and fiscally responsible if they do, to determine the impact to the overall budget. The way to do that is through the good and hardworking folks on the CIPC.


Joseph Cormier said...

Budget season ...

32:3 Definitions. – In this chapter

VI. "Special warrant article'' means any article in the warrant for an annual or special meeting which proposes an appropriation by the meeting and which:
(a) Is submitted by petition; or


32:5 Budget Preparation

32:10 Transfer of Appropriations. –

Anonymous said...

This is simply another reason for SB2. Two hundred plus or minus people can do an end run of the dedicated work of the selectmen and other committees to maintain financial stability. Moultonborough has become a retirement community as have others in the State (near the coast for example) like it or not. The older generations have a tough time dealing with the winter and many head south. This is not the same era as when Town Meetings were initiated.