LONDONDERRY — Town Councilors presented proposed updates to the town charter at a public hearing Dec. 23.

The new updated language, if approved, would deal with the town's default budget and what can, or can't be included in that number when budgets are being planned.

The proposed charter amendment comes after the state put new rules in place that commands more specifically what may or may not be included default numbers as communities plan their budgets.

That led to Londonderry voters now being asked to approve a supplemental budget along with the main municipal number, that includes various expenditures not included in the default budget.

The Londonderry charter amendment would adjust how the default budget is defined and calculated. The school district made a similar charter amendment proposal.

At the recent public hearing, town attorney Michael Ramsdell presented his legal views on the proposed charter language changes, saying what the town is proposing coincides with state laws.

"The town charter is really out of date with what a default budget is," Ramsdell said.

A default budget is defined as the amount of appropriations in the operating budget approved the previous year, reduced or increased by any debt service, contractual obligations previously incurred or mandated by law and reduced by one-time expenditures in the operating budgets. Those one-time expenditures should be appropriations not likely to recur in the succeeding budget and determined by the Town Council.

By updating the language, Ramsdell said the town would be served better and the default budget and its definition will be clearer.

"This benefits the town and complies with the law," he said.

Town Manager Kevin Smith said when the state changed the rules for default budgets and what could or could not be included, that presented some challenges and limitations and more warrant articles appeared on the town warrant to cover various expenditure requests.

"What the charter change would do is allow us to go back to doing things the way we were doing them prior to a couple years ago when the Legislature changed the definition of the default budget," Smith said. "It will allow us greater flexibility going forward and also does not keep us beholden to the state every time they do a change to the default budget."

Smith stressed the town will continue to be transparent when it comes to spending money, adding he feels the town is doing a good job over the years of explaining the default budget process when it gets put together.

The proposed charter amendment will be sent off to state agencies for review, Ramsdell said, including the Department of Revenue, Attorney General and Secretary of State.

Those agencies can make recommendations and give opinions and send it back to the town. If all is set and correct, the amendment then will appear on the town warrant and voters will decide.

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