Sunday, May 3, 2015

Finance Committee does the detailed work to understand the FY 2016 budget

The first of the series of budget hearings was held last Thursday evening. The budget hearings continue this week with meetings on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. If necessary, there is also one more meeting currently scheduled for Monday, May 11.

The Finance Committee will conduct their vote on the budget after hearing all the details on each department. The vote will likely come on Thursday evening and worse case on the meeting for May 11.

Franklin Municpal Bulding - site of the budget hearings
Franklin Municpal Bulding - site of the budget hearings

Why so many meetings?

The Finance Committee takes time to talk with each of the department heads. They get into details of the operations, what changes are planned for and of course, the budget dollars needed. The Town Council in recent years has skipped this detailed discussion to speed up their meetings. They do have a two night budget hearing but realistically if you want to really find out what is in each departments budget, watch the FinCom meetings.

The published schedule of the meetings is shown below. The large budget items are in bold. These major departments cover most of the budget with schools accounting for half of the total town spending. Note that the total school spending is more than the total town amount. You can see the details of that in the school department budget reviewed last week and posted here.

What is the budget cycle?

The budget is put together by each department and consolidated by the Town Administrator and Comptroller starting about October each year. The capital requirements are reviewed and the 'free cash' is allocated to meet as many of the requirements are possible. Some of the capital budget is up for Town Council vote this week (May 6th). A small portion of 'free cash' about $400,000 is held in reserve for contingencies and then allocated before the end of the fiscal year (June 30th).

The department budget is review by the Town Administrator and in many cases comes forward as is. There are cases where the Town Administrator will recommend either a higher or lower amount. You can view the details in the voting document. There is a column for the FY 2015 budget (what the Town is operating under now), the department request, the Town Administrator recommendation, and then the Finance Committee recommendation. The last number is proposed and could be changed during these budget hearings.

As noted, the Finance Committee conducts their budget hearings and then votes to recommend a budget for the Town Council to review. The Council will spend two nights in a budget hearing but as has been happening recently, the second night is a formality. Unless an unresolved question from the first night needs to be addressed, the Council votes on the budget.

The budget needs to be balanced and approved by June 30 so when July 1 arrives, the Town can operate. The key to balancing the budget is what revenues are being used (recurring or one time?, fee increases or not?) and where are the expenses prioritized? 

  • Will there be an increase in road repairs? Not likely in this budget.
  • Will there be an increase in personnel? Yes, on both the town and school side.
  • Will there be an improvement in services? No, it is being talked of as a 'level service' budget.


(Dept #) (Dept name) (page number of budget book)

  • 630 Recreation F-9
  • 210 Police B-1
  • 293 Parking Meter B-31
  • 300 School Dept C-1
  • 390 Tri County C-2
  • 395 Norfolk Aggie C-3


  • 510 Health E-1
  • 520 Public Health E-7
  • 155 Information Tech A-25
  • 541 COA E-8
  • 543 Veterans E-17
  • 161 Town Clerk A-28
  • 164 Elections A-31
  • 691 Historical Comm F-11
  • 192 Facilities A-39


Budget Presentations:

  • 177 Planning A-35
  • 610 Library F-1
  • 220 Fire B-13
  • 225 Regional Dispatch B-24
  • 422 DPW D-1
  • 424 Streetlights D-17
  • 440 Sewer Enterprise H-2
  • 450 Water Enterprise H-9
  • 434 Solid Waste Enterp H-16

Action Items:

  • FY 16 Operating Budget Vote
  • OPEB Actuary funding

The budget hearing voting document can be found here

The revenue side of the budget can be found here

My notes from the first budget hearing can be found here:

The published agenda for the future budget hearings can be found here




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