Tuesday, February 3, 2009

FINCOM - quick notes from 2/3/09

The Finance Committee wrapped up the capital discussions this evening and voted 9-1 to approve the Administration recommendations on $1.3M for capital to come from "free cash".

Presentations this evening covered the
School Dept - replace two vans (hopefully starts a regular replace of the school vehicles)
School Dept - text books (replacement of US History text that are 10 years old was one example)
School Dept - technology (desktop/notebook system replacements - all slated for replacement are more than 6 years old)

Town - Facilities (replacement of gazebo roof)

Town Administrator Jeff Nutting also provided an update on the current reduction of $300,000 from this years (FY 2009) budget. He is having his department heads look into how they can absorb this amount. He is not overly concerned about this year. (I agree given we come up with about $1 million in "free cash", that is money in the budget that is not used each year, coming up with $300,000 should be "easy".)

Jeff provided an outlook into FY 2010 budget. Given the numbers prepared by the various town and school departments thus far, he is forecasting a shortfall of about $5.2 million. (Note: it was reported last week that this number would be in the $4.5 to 5.5 million range.)

Jeff is hopeful that the state legislature will take action to enable some local taxes (i.e. the meals tax could be kept in Franklin and is estimated at about $800,000). Taxing the phone companies would generate about $150,000. So while together this would be about $1 million, it would help but not be anything near a silver bullet.

Of more concern to Jeff is the fact that the Town is on the path of getting to the minimum level of funding for the schools. It could be that in 2011, the state minimum would kick in and the town would be forced to make further cuts on the municipal side (or pass another override) to make the ends meet.

With the budget season now beginning in earnest, I encourage you to tune into the meetings. Better yet, make the effort to get to the Council Chambers for the key FINCOM, School Committee and Town Council meetings.

With you participation, then at least you can be assured of a good discussion and decision. You will have done what you could.

If you sit back and let someone else take action, you may not like the results but you'll need to live with them.

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