Budget With Care, Not Punishment

The Derry Town Council asked town officials to come up with a budget that would cut $2.50 per $1,000 off its tax rate.

The Timberlane Regional School District Budget Committee, which includes the town of Sandown, reminded the superintendent it had asked for a flat budget, not the 2.75 percent increased budget he submitted. And it sent him back to come up with what it asked for.

Almost immediately after the Town Council meeting in Derry, we received a letter saying the cuts would mean drastic layoffs among fire and police, closure of the Recreation Department, and other scenarios of disaster. The Town Councilor whose name appeared on the email, however, knew nothing about the letter and did not write it.

It’s sad that valid questions about what a $2.50 per $1,000 tax cut would entail are tainted by an email using a false name and address. You won’t see the email because we have no idea who wrote it. We publish letters from people willing to stand up for their views, not from cowards.

The question raised, however, needs to be answered. Derry’s budget schedule offers plenty of time for those discussions to be aired publicly.

In Timberlane, where budget and school board meetings have been both acrimonious and childish for months, the superintendent’s response to the budget committee request was to immediately suggest closing Sandown Central School. Several years ago, voters turned down a warrant article that would have shuttered that school. Now, without plans for what to do with the fourth and fifth graders in Sandown, such a response is curious. It almost looks like a “take that” to Arthur and Donna Green, a Sandown couple who sit on the budget committee and school board respectively, and who usually cast the only no votes on budget and school board motions.

Closing a school is a drastic measure that we would expect to take months if not years of planning. And in a four-town district, the burden of the budget cut would be placed solely on the children of Sandown.

It’s far from unreasonable to ask towns and school districts to look at budgets differently and to make major cuts, rather than further burdening taxpayers. The response should be neither defensive nor punitive. The budget does not belong to those who craft it, but to the residents as a whole.

Starting with a flat budget is a valid way to do things. Reacting with scare tactics is not the response we expect from adults.