Drastic cuts could be coming in the 2013 fiscal year budget, if a 0% levy or a 1% under ride were imposed, according to Chief Financial Officer Mary Ellen Kelley.
Those cuts could include closing a fire station, closing the cutting back solid waste collection to every other week, closing , closing the on weekends, closing the , and closing the . This would be in addition to any budget cutbacks.
Despite steep reductions in town services, cutting the budget in that way would only decrease the average taxpayer’s current tax bill by about $60, Kelley said.
Kelley presented a report to the Selectmen on the preliminary operating budget for fiscal year 2013, noting that this was just the beginning of a long process toward getting the budget finalized by Town Meeting.
The budget focuses on funding the same services currently provided by the town.
Municipal departments are expected to require an additional $2.6 million in the 2013 fiscal year, including $501,057 more for the and $587,634 for the .
Kelley said the increases are mostly due to pay increases but also include overtime pay and operational cost increases. Those departments do not have plans to hire any new staff in the next fiscal year.
Town health insurance premiums are expected to go down in the next fiscal year, for the first time in her tenure as CFO, Kelley noted. Also decreasing are the snow and ice deficit and sanitation.
In addition, the position of a town Information Technology Director has been funded for the past four fiscal years, but the position has not been filled, according to Kelley. In fact, the open position has never even been advertised.
“We’re building into the budget funny money,” said Selectman Dennis Giombetti. Bringing up former Town Manager Julian Suso, Giombetti added, “I think it’s been a conscious decision not to act on it.”
Part of the holdup, said Selectman Ginger Esty, came out of trying to work with the School Department to hire someone to cover information technology for both the town and the school department. Kelley said she has had a number of discussions with the School Superintendent about the schools’ IT needs, which differ significantly from the town’s IT needs.
Acting Town Manager Valerie Mulvey said there had been a discussion of hiring an IT Director when she came on in November, but it was thought that should be the decision of a permanent Town Manager. Mulvey had thought she would be orienting a permanent Town Manager at this point.
Selectmen voted to ask Mulvey to reach out to the Superintendent of Schools again about the possibility of working together to find an IT Director. If it is determined that’s not feasible, they will move forward independently with hiring a town IT Director.
Selectmen voted for Kelley to develop two budgets, one showing a 1% under ride and one representing the 2.5% maximum tax levy. They will review those two options and make a determination about how to proceed.
They also voted to ask the Acting Town Manager to talk to the Finance Committee, Police Chief, and CFO about the entire budget. Additionally, they voted to have the Police Chief address the Selectmen and discuss issues of budget and manpower in the Police Department.