By Joseph D. Elie , Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Town Manager Dan Morgado conducted his annual financial workshop with the Board of Selectmen at the board's Dec. 6 meeting. Morgado summed up the town's financial situation with the caveat: “Shrewsbury is in a fragile stability that could change in a millisecond due to external forces beyond our control.”
In his detailed strategic review that recapped fiscal year (FY) 2011 and previewed FY 2012, Morgado touted Moody's Investor Service's positive ratings of the town's finances as a testament that the town government's fiscally conservative approach is working, in spite of the weak economy and the fiscal condition of other municipalities in Massachusetts. The town's annual budget is approximately $100 million.
Morgado said the town's strengths were its excellent school system and public safety and public works departments coupled with its relatively low tax burden.
“Shrewsbury remains an outstanding and desirable place to live,” Morgado said. “As a low-tax, high-service community, Shrewsbury is definitely where people want to be.”
Morgado added that property values have stabilized, free cash reserves continue to grow modestly, and there has been an uptick in new growth.
Morgado said one of Shrewsbury's weaknesses was its reliance on state aid to provide about 24 percent of its annual budget. Morgado said his biggest budgetary difficulty was “[an] inability to control what the commonwealth and/or the federal government will do to us next.”
At the conclusion of Morgado's report, Selectmen Chair Jim Kane proposed sending a letter to U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D; state Rep. Matthew Beaton, R-Shrewsbury; and state Sen. Michael Moore, D-Millbury, to express the town's concern over the potential costs of new mandates from the federal and state governments. Selectman Moira Miller said that a request should also be added to the letter for a “moratorium on new mandates.”