Hollis has 4 distinct budgets which voters have an opportunity to vote upon.
They are for A) Town of Hollis, B) Hollis School District (HSD), C) Hollis-Brookline Cooperative School District (Coop), and D) SAU41 (the School Administration for the the Hollis, Coop and Brookline School Districts).
The Hollis Budget Committee is responsible under RSA 32 for the Town and Hollis School District. The Cooperative Budget Committee is responsible for the Coop. There is no budget committee oversight allowed under the RSA's for the SAU (The 12 members of the 3 School boards are responsible for creating the Budget).
Hollis (and the Coop) operates as a Municipal Budget Act Town under RSA 32:14. What this means is that the the creation and presentation to the voters of the Operating Budgets for the Town, Hollis School District and Coop are the responsibility of the elected Budget Committees. However, the final say on the budget is with the voters at Annual District Meetings (usually in March), where voters may adopt or change the recommended budget (within the 10% budget rule). The budget committee is intended to assist its voters in the prudent appropriation of public funds.
The budget Committees have the statutory authority to create the entire budget from the ground up, but once voters approve a budget at annual meeting, the actual implementation of that budget is the responsibility of the Governing Body (Selectman or School board). In fact, the governing body has the right to move funds around a great deal within the "bottom line", unless a line item is "zero'd out", indicating no money may be spent on that line item. Because of this combination of authority and latitude which resides with the governing body, the Hollis Budget Committee has historically worked collaboratively with the Selectman and School Board on budget development by providing "Guidance and Biases" to them, and asking that they create a budget within those constraints, but reserving the right to alter the bottom line or budget we ultimately present to voters as circumstances warrant.
In addition, any warrant articles presented to voters which have an appropriation or financial impact to the voters, including Union Collective Bargaining Agreements or petition warrant articles, will be reviewed in detail by the Budget Committee, and a recommendation made to assist voters with the Budcom's recommendations (to approve or not to approve).
The budget process is most active from late summer, through March. The process by the Hollis budget committee is open to the public, and public input is encouraged with time provided at most meetings for public input. In summer, we start gathering data and taking the temperature of the economy. We monitor a great deal of data to help inform our decisions. Guidance and Biases are discussed, calculated and voted upon in early fall (some time between Sept and Nov), and the Selectman and School board work on the detailed budget development. This process is monitored in detail, with regular detailed budget reviews in December and January, as well as presentation and reviews of all warrant articles that will be before voters at the annual meeting. In February, the Budget Committee is required to hold a Public Hearing on the budget and all Warrant Articles. Residents are encouraged to attend, listen to the detailed presentations and ask questions and give input and recommendations to the Budget Committee before the Budget Committee votes on the final amounts and recomendations.
Finally, in March Voters have the final say at the Annual Meetings. It's important to participate in all 3 - Town, Hollis School District and Coop School District ( Each having about $10 million budgets ), where the majority of those voters present have the final say on what our budget and tax impact will be. ( The SAU budget has a Public Hearing typically in December, and the budget becomes a warrant article on the School Warrant).