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

Up in smoke

Portsmouth Light rises up through the sea smoke that billowed 20 to 30 feet high on December 21. (Photo by Jim Cerny)

Budgets sliced  

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.

Shore 'nuf  

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.

Hardly random

Santa comes in for a tight landing as he makes a delivery as part of a Random Road display. (Photo by Jim Cerny)


People in the news

An invitation  

Rye Reflections is a vehicle for fulfilling your New Year's resolution to become more active. If you write, edit, do photography, are technically oriented, or just have ideas to share about the Seacoast, we want you, as the old Uncle Sam poster used to say. There are no age nor experience requirements. If you can attend any of our weekly meetings (Thursday at 1 p.m. in the downstairs Community Room at the Rye Public Library), that's a plus but not a must. Give it a try or email us for more information: surfers@ryereflections.org. We welcome you and guarantee it'll be fun.

To each his own

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.

January, 2009