Rye budget cut … School Board within a hair of zero growth … 8th graders cited for submersible robot … $5000 grant for Safe Routes … Gillespie promoted …
Staff of Rye Reflections
Portsmouth Light rises up through the sea smoke that billowed 20 to 30 feet high on December 21. (Photo by Jim Cerny)
The Rye Board of Selectmen voted in mid-December to pare the proposed 2009 budget by $339,784.00, coming up with a new figure of $7,281,922 or 2.6% below this year's budget after Chairman Craig Musselman sent department heads back to the drawing board to make cuts due to the economic crunch. "Now is not the time for business as usual, even though the town budget has been cut to the bone for years," Musselman said in November in ordering the budget to be revisited.
The budget will be among warrant articles presented on January 31 at the town's Deliberative Session and will be voted on at the March 10 election (Click here
for story on other warrant articles).
Interim Town Administrator Mike Farrell told the Selectmen that about $3 million goes for wages, $1.1 million for benefits and another $1 million for debt service. That left little to cut. Savings were achieved by deferring certain expenditures and by revising gasoline estimates from $3.40 a gallon to $3.
"This is the way things should be done," said Budget Committee Chairman Paul Goldman at its Dec. 17 meeting. "I'm proud of this town."
Meanwhile, Musselman described to the Budget Committee a "whammy" that Rye will have to contend with: Surplus funds "will not be there next year" to help reduce the tax rate. Those funds amounted to some $800,000 in 2007 and $600,000 in 2008, he said.
The Selectmen gleefully received one bit of good financial news in December when Finance Director Cyndi Gillespie informed them the Public Safety Building's capital account could be closed out, freeing up $271,000 to apply to the 2009 general fund.
Musselman twice expressed concern to Library Director Kerry Cronin about the 7% increase being asked for by the Library for 2009. The first occasion was at a Selectmen's meeting on Dec. 1. She said she would carry the message back to the trustees. Board chair Joan Sweeney then attended most of the Dec. 17 Budget Committee meeting, but after she left Musselman, speaking in his Budget Committee role, then raised the issue again with Cronin, saying the School Board and Selectmen had taken "extraordinary actions" to cut their budgets and in that light "the question has to be posed to the Library." While one Budget Committee member said the Library budget is such that the only way to cut it would be to lay off one person, Chairman Goldman expressed the feeling that "there seems to be some insulation between the Library and the rest of us." In the end the Budget Committee authorized Goldman to be available for consultation to the Library Trustees on behalf of the board.
The School Committee earlier had gone through a zero-growth crusade, finally presenting a .59% increase to the Budget Committee on Dec. 18. The total for the 2009-2010 school year is $11,812,933. The School Board had to work around a fixed cost increase of 14.3% for Portsmouth High School tuitions, amounting to $335,933.
Revisions in the Shoreland Protection Act and other coastal issues will be the focus of an N.H. Department of Environmental Services
workshop in Portsmouth on Wednesday, Jan. 21, at the Sheraton Harborside from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Contact Ray Reimold for more information at Raymond.Reimold@des.nh.gov or 603-271-0649.
Santa comes in for a tight landing as he makes a delivery as part of a Random Road display. (Photo by Jim Cerny)
- Science students from Rye Junior High School are featured on a national website (click on Ice Stories: Dispatches from Polar Scientists) for building a submersible robotic camera under the direction of their teacher, Robin Ellwood. She was part of a research team that launched the camera in the Ross Sea in Antartica in November. The story, headlined "Rye Rober Rivals Real Rig" includes a video demonstration.
- Rye's Safe Routes to School program has received $5000 in federal funds from the state Department of Transportation that will be used to assist students who already walk or bike to school, according to program director Kim Reed. She also said the program wants to find out why students who live within two miles of school aren't walking and biking and "come up with a plan to create walking paths, bike paths and ways to get kids to school by a safe route," helping save gas, cut down on traffic and contribute toward a national goal of reducing obesity among school children.
- Craig Musselman breaks the mold for professional papers, writing about what it is like to be a Professional Engineer and a local elected official. His "informal" paper was published in a national journal that goes into 1500 engineering libraries around the world. Check out Musselman's musings at www.cmaengineers.com/ASCE_CNM.pdf.
- Hampton's $18 million request to the state to construct a new Hampton Beach Seashell complex is having rough sledding this winter. The plan includes a new stage, bathhouses and a visitors center. Beach Commission chairman John Nyhan is urging state officials to go for it, saying it would increase tourism by 20% and bring in $2.6 million per year in taxes and fees. So far it has been a hard sell.
- in the face of evidence to the contrary, the state is saying we shouldn't believe the market has dried up for recyclables. They actually save you money on your tax bill, according to the N.H. Department of Environmental Services Watershed Assistance Program, which states: (1) It cost N.H. cities and towns $116 million to dispose of waste in 2007; (2) Every 1% increase in the recycling rate triggers a $1 million savings. Maybe so, but at the Rye Recycling Center there's agreement with the opening line of a recent New York Times story, which reads: "Trash has crashed."
- Cyndi Gillespie, the town's Financial Director is now also Assistant Town Administrator. "She's not just good, she's excellent," said chairman Craig Musselman in announcing the board's unanimous vote on her promotion. Musselman said she was being paid in the bottom quartile for Financial Directors of other N.H. towns in the population range of 5000 to 10,000. She will receive an $8746 increase this year. When the Budget Committee was informed, while Gillespie was present, Chairman Paul Goldman stood to commend her, saying "I am really happy to see this town recognize good performance."
Molly gets in the spirit (owned by Kathy and Larry Feltz of Hampton). (Photo by Jim Cerny)
- State Representatives Will Smith and David Borden have both been expressing willingness to go the extra mile — literally and figuratively — to ensure that Rye citizens are fully briefed on State House activities since both live in New Castle but represent Rye as well. Rep. Smith has had discussions with Rye Reflections about regular forms of briefings. and Rep. Borden pledged to the Rye Selectmen that he would attend their board meetings monthly while the Legislature is in session. Both are interested in holding an open forum in Rye, possibly sometime in March.
- Amanda Whittet of Rye, a graduate of Portsmouth High School, was named to the All-New England soccer team, having been captain and a four-year starter at Gordon College.
- Alice Provencher, 82, a retired nurse, died of cancer shortly before Christmas and will be remembered for years of service to the community, handling refreshments at Memorial Day services, being the welcoming hostess for visitors to the Rye Historical Museum on Saturdays, being a founding member of Rye Senior SERVE and riding "shotgun" on Tuesday shopping trips, being on the board of Rye Over 55 and being an avid member of the Driftwood Club and volunteering at the Fuller Gardens.
- The latest book written by a Rye native is , "Seahawk: Confessions of an Old Hockey Goalie," by Bruce Valley. A former Navy test pilot, Valley now lives in Alexandria, Virginia, where he runs an aerospace company. More information at www.ryeseahawks.com.
- Budget Committee members take their jobs seriously, so seriously in fact that they didn't even crack a smile when board chairman Paul Goldman asked in the course of proceedings on Dec. 17: "It's not a big bite out of the mosquito budget, is it?"
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It snows in Timberon, New Mexico, but when Judy Underwood moved there from Rye not long ago she was more likely to see this type of phenomenon and capture it with her trusty camera.
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