Northborough – Northborough residents and selectmen celebrated as they received the Distinguished Budget Award from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) at the Board of Selectmen's meeting Feb. 14.
After 18 months of careful planning, Northborough's fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget received the highest accolade in governmental budgeting. The award, granted to only nine municipalities in Massachusetts, recognizes the work and ability of the towns” financial minds and planners.
Established in 1984, the Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program acknowledges communities that, according to its press release, “prepare budget documents of the very highest quality that reflect both the guidelines established by the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting and the GFOA's recommended best practices on budgeting.”
Budgets are graded by four categories: the budget as a policy document, financial plan, operations guide and communication device and must rate highly in all to receive recognition.
GFOA President Nancy Holt presented the town with a plaque at the meeting.
“Northborough's budget document represents a commitment to long-range financial planning at all levels, which enhances the community's long-range program sustainability,” she said. “It brings together policy, operations and financial planning in a transparent manner.”
Town Administrator John Coderre was beaming as he received the award.
“I couldn's be prouder of the financial team and the town of Northborough right now,” he said. “This project is something that we undertook 18 months ago…it's a lot more than just putting a pretty document together.”
Coderre is confident in the work of his team and their future.
“In the worst recession in 80 years, we have had no layoffs, no meaningful reductions in services; we'se balanced our budgets, we'se finished with positive free cash…all these things that we'se done, we'se all worked together.”
In other news, the board discussed the FY 2012 free cash plan. Because of a 2010 surplus of $1.95 million from revenues that came in over budget and expenditures that came in under budget, the board has nearly $2 million to spend on capital improvements. This is the first use of the new free cash plan which takes a more cautious approach with free cash, implementing it two years after the financial year on capital improvements in lieu of folding it into the budget.
In other business, after an active, wet winter zapped the snow and ice budget, the board approved deficit spending after it was reported that the town was over budget by nearly $120,000. The town had already budgeted nearly $160,000 into the snow and ice fund and, barring any additional massive storms, the $120,000 should cover the rest of the winter, officials said.
In addition, The Friends of the Northborough Senior Center are fund-raising to build a patio and are selling personalized bricks. For $100, contributors can lay a personalized brick, inscribed with a message, on the outdoor patio.