Hampstead Budget Committee Takes Look at SAU Numbers

HAMPSTEAD – The Hampstead Budget Committee, in an unusual move, invited School Administrative Unit (SAU) 55 officials to present their budget. This move arose because the SAU budget for the first time will be a separate warrant article for all the member towns, with taxpayers voting on it instead of having it as a line item in the budget.

The SAU is composed of the Hampstead and Timberlane Regional School Districts – Timberlane is composed of Sandown, Danville, Atkinson and Plaistow.
SAU Business Administrator George Stokinger and Assistant Superintendent Roxanne Wilson provided the Budget Committee members with copies of the budget and a handout on the SAU.
Stokinger explained that the SAU manages and administers three separate business entities: the SAU itself; the Hampstead School District, and the Timberlane Regional School District.
The SAU has 12.75 full time employees, he said – the fraction of an employee results from the SAU and Timberlane sharing 50-50 the receptionist at the building where the SAU is housed, 30 Greenough Road in Plaistow. The SAU leases half of that building from Timberlane. The other 25 percent of an employee for the SAU results from one Timberlane employee spending one-quarter of her time assisting the SAU’s Human Resources employee, Nancy Danahy.
Housed at 30 Greenough Road are all SAU employees and the Timberlane Regional School District Pupil Personnel Department, Curriculum Department, and Technology Administration. The SAU staff consists of the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Business Administrator and Assistant Business Administrator, Human Resources Director, Transportation Director, secretary, the half receptionist and five support staff.
Stokinger presented the bottom line budget at $1,487,025, with a default budget of $1,455,409. In the budget are salaries of $825,028 – $794,444 in the default budget – and operating expenses of $661,996 in the budget and $660,965 in the default.
The allocation of the budget amounts due from the two districts are:
• Hampstead pays 22.45 percent or $329,283 of the budget and $322,187 in the default budget.
• Timberlane Regional pays 77.55 percent or $1,137,741 in the budget and $1,113,221 in the default budget.
The budget has a beginning fund balance for both the budget and the default budget of $20,000.
Stokinger said the budget has increased by $135,056 over the 2013-2014 budget of $1,352,057. Most of that increase can be tracked to the insurance line, which increased from $195,000 to $287,764, or an increase of $92,764.
He responded to a question from the committee regarding this by explaining that now that the budget is a stand alone, the exposure of unfunded liability has to be funded for SAU employees who do not presently take insurance but could decide to do so. Presently there are nine employees taking the coverage while the others take the buy-out option, Stokinger said.
The committee asked about the increase in the Contracted Services line, which went from $800 to $13,600. Stokinger said that represents fees and plan administration costs removed from the Other Employee Benefits line because they were not precisely benefits but more contracted services. The Other Employee Benefits line went from $33,292 down to $22,385.
Finally the committee asked why the Course Reimbursement line was at $4,600 when last year only $184 had been used. Wilson said that was for a single day seminar rather than a course, and the cost for a single course runs about $2,400.
Committee Chairman Matt Murphy asked if the Course Reimbursement line could be reduced to $3,000. Wilson said it could be brought up at the public hearing scheduled for Nov. 13 at the SAU.

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