House Bill HB123 proposes that ex-offiicio school board and select board members on the budget committee be prohibited from voting membership.
The bill seeks to amend RSA 32:15, I(b) (Budget Committee Membership) by adding the following sentences:
Governing body members and school board ex officio members shall serve in an advisory capacity only. They shall not vote on any matter before the committee and their presence at any meeting shall not count towards the quorum requirement.
Eric Pauer’s submission to the NH Legislative committee considering this bill:
Dear House Municipal and County Government Committee,
The School District Governance Association of NH (SDGA-NH) fully supports HB123 ” relative to governing body members of the budget committee “. Official budget committees are charged with proposing a budget and providing recommendations on other appropriations for their town and school district. While it is important for a member of the selectboard and school board to be assigned as liaison to help inform the budget committee or priorities, it is improper for the liaisons to be voting members as “ex officios”. On the budget and appropriation warrant articles, these members get two votes for recommendations — once as a member of the governing body and once as a member of the budget committee. Also, in practice, these “ex officios” almost always vote for every appropriation and against any effort to reduce the budgets, creating a barrier for the budget committee to carry out its fiduciary fiscal responsibilities.
Cooperative school district budget committees (Coop Budcoms) are charged with proposing a budget and providing recommendations on appropriations for their cooperative school district. The voting “ex officio” school board member almost always recommends every school appropriation and votes against any reductions. Also, Coop Budcoms per RSA 195:12-a and 195:4 must have an odd number of elected members, but adding the school board member makes the committee have an even number of members, against the intent of these statutes. Lastly, the “ex officio” school board member is almost always appointed from the largest town in a cooperative school district, giving that town even more weight in fiscal matters on the Coop Budcom.
HB123 wisely changes the governing body members assigned to the budget committees to become important liaisons, but not double voting members. Please recommend OTP on HB123.
SDGA is a statewide organization of current and former school board and budget committee members focused on responsible and fiscal prudence as well as academic excellence in our public schools. Please visit our website to learn more or feel free to contact me with any questions.