LISBON TOWN COUNCIL CHAIR DILLON PESCE talks about his concerns with how the town’s school department budget is being crafted during the council meeting Tuesday night.

LISBON TOWN COUNCIL CHAIR DILLON PESCE talks about his concerns with how the town’s school department budget is being crafted during the council meeting Tuesday night.

LISBON

Public hearing, final vote expected May 5

The town council Tuesday initially agreed to do away with the Finance Committee by voting to repeal the ordinance creating the committee.

The council will have to have a public hearing and take a final vote on the change, which is expected to take place May 5.

Resident Larry Filmore opposed the move because, he said “it eliminated the checks and balances in our local government.”

He said the town’s charter commission felt it was critical to have checks and balances and created the Budget Advisory Board to oversee financial issues for the town.

“In 2014, the town council did away with this board and created the Finance Committee, and appointed whom they wanted to sit on this committee,” Filmore said. “I will not go into the reasons behind that decision. However, at least the people had a committee to look into the financial issues of the town.”

By eliminating those checks and balances, Filmore said, “you have changed the makeup of a democracy form of local government.”

Council chairperson Dillon Pesce noted the Budget Advisory Board and Finance Committee have only ever been advisory committees without any authority over the council.

Councilor Mark Lunt acknowledged Filmore’s argument, but said “this committee has never provided an effective check or balance on the council. I think the charter already has language that does provide checks and balances in terms of the ability for people to collect signatures and require a special town meeting or referendum.”

Lunt recommended the council repeal the ordinance creating the Finance Committee “and then come up with something that works better for ourselves.” He made the motion to that effect for the council’s first reading of the ordinance appeal, which passed 7-0.

Pesce said when he first came onto the council he had high hopes for the Finance Committee, and thought it would do well for the town and council, but “it has not been effective up until now.”

The council also held off on making a change to the section of town ordinance regarding the officers and duties for the Zoning Board of Appeals as recommended by Councilor Roger Bickford. The council plans to meet in July to talk about potential charter changes. Pesce noted if the council wants to create subcommittees, including a finance subcommittee, it will require a new ordinance.

Town Manager Diane Barnes announced the proposed 2015-16 budget will have a $312,945 reduction in expenditures from the current municipal spending plan. Before adjusting medical premiums in the budget, the police department budget has been reduced by $100,047 and the public works department by $101,503.

Pesce praised town staff for working to find those cuts, noting when the council set a goal to have $300,000 cut from the budget, “people thought we were crazy.”

Pesce and Council Eric Metevier both expressed concern with the development of the Lisbon School Department budget, and questioned the legality of the proposed use of $143,000 from the Lisbon High School capital reserve fund towards the budget, as well as $304,551 in excess bond proceeds. The council has asked the school to cut $600,000 from its budget. He’s submitted questions to the school department.

Barnes will give a budget presentation May 5.

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