LONDONDERRY — As the budget season moves on, voters in Londonderry could once again face a lengthy list of warrant articles when they head to the polls in March.
And that is why local officials hope to find a way to somehow streamline the list and make the process clearer and better for residents when it's time to vote.
During a budget workshop Nov. 25, Town Council Chairman John Farrell pointed out that yet again, Londonderry's town warrant could be a long one.
The proposed list for the fiscal year 2021 town budget currently has 27 articles listed. Past years have offered multiple pages of warrant articles and budget items to consider.
"It's getting to the point where I'm finding it ridiculous that we have 27 articles again," Farrell said. "There's got to be a better way to do this."
The proposed town budget shows a general fund operating budget of about $35 million, with another $2.7 million for the Enterprise Fund Operating Budget/Sewer, that having no tax impact and paid for through user fees.
A Supplemental Operating Budget number is proposed at $153,005.
Other proposed articles that might make the official warrant include $650,00 for the Roadway Maintenance Trust Fund; $533,906 for Special Revenue Fund/police details, and $103,476 to establish a Police Detail Revolving Fund. Proposed capital reserve expenditures are for Geographic Information Systems, $28,000, Pillsbury Cemetery expansion at $75,000, $50,000 for Fire Department equipment, and $32,000 for cable equipment.
In addition, the warrant under consideration includes a proposed article asking residents to spend $265,000 to pave the town hall parking lot, and $53,115 to spend on Department of Public Works leases.
Voters may also be asked to approve $15,000 to establish and fund a Recreation Maintenance Reserve Fund.
Five other articles could deal with town union contracts, including the Londonderry Police Employees Association; Town Administrative Personnel; public safety employees, support staff/AFSCME 1801, and the Londonderry Executive Employees Association/LEEA union contract.
For Farrell, the list is still long and he hopes residents will be able to understand the articles and the money being requested.
"We are sending people into the voter's box with 27 different things they've got to look at," he said. "And you can explain it nine ways to Sunday, but that is the way the law is. This is the way we have to do it."
Farrell said he wanted to make the warrant more simple on election day, with possible consolidation of certain articles and language to make the list shorter.
"If we can't do that, we need to start explaining a lot earlier, and explain to them why they have to spend 15 minutes in there looking at this," he said.
Farrell suggested getting legal opinion on whether any of the union contract article language and subsequent articles to authorize special meetings on those contract cost items, if needed, could somehow could be combined legally and within all rules.
Right now, there would be 10 articles making up the warrant dealing with the five union contracts and five other articles dealing with the special meeting authorization.
Farrell said if those 10 could be combined it would chop some articles off the long list.
"Let's look at a way to lend some simplicity to it," he said. "We have to figure out how to get this thing shorter."
Residents will get more definite budget information at the first public hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2021 budget on Monday, Dec. 9, 7 p.m. in Moose Hill Council Chambers at the town offices. Budget materials are also available on the town's website.