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Selectmen vote to move final budget review to late April

Shrewsbury – In an eff ort to have its final Fiscal Year(FY)2011 budget deliberations involve the most up-to-date local aid figures available, the Board of Selectmen voted at its March 22 meeting to delay those deliberations until late April.

Selectmen Chair Moira Miller suggested the delay, explaining that this year’s schedule had selectmen holding their final budget discussions in early April (tentatively, April 5), about two weeks before the town – in a best-case scenario – hopes it will receive final local aid numbers from the state legislature.

“Traditionally, the budget is finalized in Boston and the local aid numbers set right around Patriots’ Day,” Town Manager Daniel Morgado said. “This year Patriots’ Day is April 19.”

Miller said she suggested the delay because in past years the board discusses budget cuts and final budget numbers only to do it all over again when the final numbers are released.

“I just think holding off would be the best course of action because then when we’re having our final discussions we will know exactly what local aid is going to be, what the cut is going to be,” Miller said. “We’re hearing 4 percent now, but earlier on in the process I heard ‘not at all,’ 2 percent and 6 percent.”

Selectman John Lebeaux was in favor of moving final deliberations to late April, saying the only problem he could foresee with the move is that the budget booklets that are printed by the Finance Committee for Town Meeting (which will be May 17) may have inaccurate figures.

Morgado said that would not be an issue, that updated budget figures, adjusted by final state aid numbers, could be printed up and inserted into the booklets.

Selectman Maurice DePalo agreed with Miller and Lebeaux about moving the final budget discussions to late April, adding that he would like to see the board work in a joint meeting with the Finance Committee and the School Committee, something that is traditionally held.

Miller agreed that the board should reach out to the Finance and School committees and off er to hold a three-board meeting. She explained that this year’s three-board meeting was cancelled because of a snowstorm on the day it was scheduled to be held.

DePalo cautioned, however, that a three-board meeting, if scheduled, should be done so late in the process as well, so the discussions involve as close-toaccurate numbers as possible.

Selectman Benjamin Tartaglia disagreed, saying that a threeboard meeting should be held as early as possible, suggesting April 1 as a possible date, so that conversations about potential cuts and layoff s, if they are going to happen, could begin as soon as possible.

“We’re hearing that the school budget may be over by $3.4 million or $3.9 million or over $4 million, and that local aid figures may be 4 percent or 6 percent lower than estimated,” Tartaglia said. “All of this is going to have an impact on what budgets are going to be for all the town departments. I think the sooner we start discussing this and get a plan on the table, the better off we’re going to be.

“I’m hearing talk that there could be layoff s in the school department of anywhere from 30 positions to 60 positions, depending on what the final Chapter 70 aid numbers are for the town,” Tartaglia said. “I think we have to start devising a plan for what we’re going to do if we’re going to have to cut 60 positions from the school department.”

DePalo strongly disagreed with Tartaglia’s desire to have the meeting as early as possible, explaining that the later the meeting is held, the more accurate the numbers are.

“It doesn’t do any good to have this meeting before we have a handle on what the numbers are,” DePalo said. “If you do that then, you’re just discussing in the abstract, and that’s no good for anyone. It’s a waste of time, really.”

Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=6733

Posted by on Mar 26 2010. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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