EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 31, 2013

Plaistow may trim Budget Committee

Proposal would reduce committee from 12 to 9 members

By Alex Lippa
alippa@eagletribune.com

---- — PLAISTOW — The Budget Committee could have a completely different look next year.

Selectmen are mulling a proposal to reduce the number of Budget Committee members from 12 to nine. The proposal comes after the committee has continually been unable to reach a quorum.

“That committee has had attendance issues,” Selectmen’s Chairman Robert Gray said. “They haven’t met for close to a month and we are closing in on a time where budgetary decisions need to be made.”

The Budget Committee made the request to decrease membership to selectmen. Selectmen have the ability to move it onto the warrant for voters to decide at Town Meeting in March.

Budget Committee member Dennis Heffernan said only nine of the 12 seats on the committee were currently filled after some resignations.

“It wouldn’t be bad to float on a town warrant article,” he said. “It would be easier to fill all of the seats. If you look at Timberlane’s budget committee, that’s a nine-member board.”

Town Clerk Maryellen Pelletier said five of the 12 seats will be open at Town Meeting.

Gray said the committee has had a hard time finding volunteers.

“This sort of thing happens every year,” he said. “They don’t really meet until September and there’s lots of times for things to happen in people’s lives between now and then.”

New Hampshire RSA 32:15 states that the number of members on a budget committee must be divisible by three, with between three and 12 members. Seven members must be present to have a quorum.

“To find 12 people willing to do this, often is a very difficult thing,” Gray said. “This is a way to try and limit that.”

Despite the lack of meetings by the Budget Committee, Gray said he is not worried about next year’s budget.

“Our budgets are in sync as of right now,” Gray said. “I have no worries about coming up with an operating budget.”

Heffernan said despite canceled meetings, it has not been a major issue in creating the budget.

“We’ve met with all the department heads and they all presented their budget,” he said. “I don’t feel like it has impeded any progress.”

Gray said the committee would be meeting during an upcoming weekend to better accommodate members’ schedules.