By S.D. Plissken | February 3, 2019
Mr. Humphrey Williams has thrown his hat into the Budget Committee ring.
I am Humphrey Williams of Micah Terrace, Milton, NH and I am announcing my candidacy for the Milton Budget Committee.
Hello, Mr. Williams.
Williams: The current budgeting “process” in Milton is seriously flawed regarding both the time-frame for developing and finalizing the annual budget, as well as the actual budgeting process itself. Since 2012, with an approved town operating budget of $3,099,684.00, to the proposed 2019 town operating budget of $4,704,012.74, the budget has increased 51.8% for a total of $1,604,328.74. That is an average of 7.4% increase per year. During the same time frame the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) has only grown 10%, a 1.4% annual average. So, the town operating budget has increased at a rate of 529% above the COLA. If something isn’t done to change the budgeting process and curb these budget increase rates, the residents of Milton and Milton Mills could surely be driven out of our homes.
Hail, fellow, well met! I mean, yes, precisely. A cumulative increase over years of 51.8% over COLA, i.e., 51.8% over our ability to pay, is over half again what should ever have been allowed.
Let us see, 3/2 x 2/3 = 1. Our Town budget would need to be cut by fully 1/3 to reach normalcy.
And your base figure was from 2012. The problem goes back a decade before that and, consequently, is actually much larger. But you are at least intending to move in the right direction.
The numbers know the way. Listen to their song.
Williams: I retired from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY), as the Production Training Superintendent, after 36 years of federal service between the United States Coast Guard and the shipyard itself. During my time at the shipyard, I witnessed first-hand, the change in philosophies from poorly planned budgets and foolishly spending money on problems to sound financial planning and resolving problems to save time and money. It wasn’t easy but, every year our Production Department was tasked with finding ways to reduce costs by as much as 10% or more. We had to find innovative solutions, improve our processes and increase our productivity, while eliminating waste and reducing our overall operating costs. We changed our philosophies, modified our processes and we found ways to improve time and again and that is why PNSY not only survived the base closure in 2005, we became the gold standard for cost-effective, high quality, on-time submarine overhaul and repair and still are today.
Yes, Milton’s situation does have much in common with a base closure. It will not remain open much longer at this rate.
Williams: This is not pointing fingers at individuals, it’s all about improving the process. The budgeting process in Milton can be changed and must be changed. If elected, I plan to work diligently with the various town Department Heads and workers to come up with creative solutions and ways to improve efficiency, while working to reduce operating costs in ways like I did at the shipyard. I also intend to work with the Budget Committee, Board of Selectmen and Department Heads to streamline the budgeting process. It starts by establishing sound fiscal goals that provide for what is needed, while looking at ways of reducing costs. Next, eliminating redundant duplicate budget presentations to separate boards and committees will save time and effort and provide for a more effective and efficient budgeting process. This will enable the budgets to be completed months ahead of the current budgeting process, freeing up valuable time for Department Heads to find even more cost effective and cost saving measures.
Begin with last year’s Chained-CPI, from which Social Security COLA is calculated. (Milton has many retirees). The US Bureau of Labor Statistics put last year’s price inflation, which Milton might take as its red-line, all lights flashing, maximal upper limit Town budget increase, at 1.8%.
Of course, that assumes a “normal” increase of 1.8% (less would be better) from a normal starting point. And you have said already that we are half again over where we should be. So, you need not worry much about any rate of increase on an already unsustainable situation. An increase of even 1.8% over the next year just perpetuates the problem.
“Level funding” has the same sad issues. We cannot live with a “level” cancer. Milton needs to get well again: only cuts, deep ones, rather than any increase of any size, will bring it back towards normalcy. We just have more government than we can afford.
Williams: I ask for your vote in the upcoming election. If you agree with my proposals and want to see changes in the budgeting process and determined effort in reducing operating costs for Milton and Milton Mills, please share this with others and let’s make things better for all of us. Thank you!
Good luck, Mr. Williams. I should warn you. Few there know how to “swim.” And when you try to save someone from drowning, they will frantically grasp on to you. Just to keep the game afloat, just another year. Their crazed notions might drag you down too. Keep your head above water.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2019). Table 5. Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) and the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): U.S. City Average, All Items Index. Retrieved from www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.t05.htm