By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor
Westborough – In 2012, Westborough will be holding its Annual Town Meeting (ATM) Saturday, March 17, instead of the second Saturday in May, as has been tradition. Because of this change, the Advisory Finance Committee (AFC) has already started the process of assessing the town's budget for fiscal year (FY) 2013. On Nov. 8, members of the AFC met with the Board of Selectmen during the selectmen's meeting to discuss the next steps needed in the process.
John Arnold, the AFC chair, told the selectmen that “this year will be challenging. Starting in January we will be meeting on Mondays and Thursday to prepare for [the ATM].”
For each Town Meeting, the AFC prepares a report with its recommendation for each item on the warrant. Arnold said that the AFC members also hoped to include in their report for the ATM the estimated tax impact on the taxpayers for each item. He added that “some [AFC] members feel strongly that we keep it within [Proposition] 2½.”
Town Manager Jim Malloy responded that with the ATM happening so much earlier in 2012, “there are so many moving parts. There's no way that you will be able to see if you can stay within 2 ½.”
He recommended that the AFC use the FY 2012 numbers to try to assess the impact, as those were certain, as opposed to the FY 2013 numbers.
Malloy also added that he and other Town Hall employees go through the process of assessing and preparing the budget and setting the tax rate. That information could be provided to the AFC, he said, so that they did not have to go through all the same work that the Town Hall staff had done.
Town Moderator Joseph Harrington asked if it would be possible for the AFC to have its report ready by the time the Annual Town Election is held Tuesday, March 6. Arnold said he did not think so, but perhaps the AFC would be able to provide at least a listing of the articles and a document that summarized the AFC's overall position on the budget.