Are you passionate about serving your community, analyzing data, and keeping voters informed? If so, you may be a good candidate for budget committee.
Municipal budget committees are locally controlled, and are structured differently for each NH community. Some are considered advisory while others are deemed official. In either capacity, the goal is the same, to help voters make informed decisions regarding proposed disbursements during town meetings or budget sessions. Budget committees do this by comprehensively researching requests, conferring with other departments, and making recommendations that are in the best interest of their community.
Serving on a budget committee requires commitment. Members meet often throughout the year, increasing in frequency as budget season approaches. Voting districts place great trust in committee members to sustain their communities through financial stewardship.
Budget committees do the following to assist voters in making informed decisions regarding the appropriation of public funds:
- Review the budget that will be submitted each year to the town, and the budgets of any school districts within that town;
- Confer with town council, other offices, and department heads and officials, regarding estimated costs, anticipated revenue, and services performed, to the extent deemed necessary;
- Conduct required public hearings;
- Forward copies of the final budgets to the clerk, and deliver budgets and recommendations upon special warrant articles to the town council, to be posted with the warrant; and,
- Meet individually with department and committee heads as the body responsible for presenting the recommended town budget at town meeting.
The process of collaboration between school boards and budget committees
A school board may have its own budget committee that is responsible for school district disbursements only. The school budget is prepared by the school district/superintendent and presented to the school board and town budget committee. This is part of the overall town budget. The town’s budget committee hears from all departments and meets with them to discuss future budgets, including the school district. The two local committees meet to talk about the budget and present their findings to the town for discussion/deliberative and voting. After discussion and vote by the town, the school board manages the budget and will go on to prepare future budgets for approval.
Thinking of running for a budget committee position?
Get started by becoming involved in the local community. Attend budget committee meetings and town events. Write op-eds for your local paper to share your ideas and begin a public dialogue.
Begin to facilitate conversations by hosting an informal meeting with several residents. To run, contact your Town Clerk’s office. They can help guide you through the process.
Who is eligible?
To run for a budget committee position in New Hampshire, a person must be a registered voter in their district. Those serving as selectman, town manager, member of the school board, village district commissioner, full-time employee, or part-time department head of the town, school district or village district, or other associated agency, are not eligible to run for budget committee.
What is the election process?
New Hampshire town elections generally take place in the first quarter of the New Year. Each town has its own timeline that specifies deadlines to file, the start of nomination processes, and when elections are held. Please note that deliberative sessions, budget sessions, and town meetings, are usually scheduled within the first few months of the year.
In some towns, the vacancies to the budget committees are filled by appointment by moderators or chairmen. If you are interested in serving on these committees, ask your Town Clerk when the process begins and how you can get involved.
How to file for budget committee election
Each district sets its own filing requirements. For some, there is a nominal cost associated with filing. This information can usually be found online. The Town Clerk’s office will have all the necessary information as well. Budget committee election rules vary from district-to-district, but all must follow the state guidelines for elections and campaigning. Rules about financial interest statements, campaigning, materials, contributions, committees, are all set by the state. For more information on specific campaigning policies, contact the NH Attorney General’s Office.