By Carol Britton Meyer
The Sustainable Budget Task Force recently presented highlights of their report to the Select Board in a joint meeting with the Advisory Committee and School Committee.
The task force was charged with developing a five-year "sustainable forecast" that will allow the town to provide services that meet residents’ expectations as well as ongoing expenditure obligations that are in line with projected revenue.
In the short-term, there is inadequate revenue to pay for services added in Fiscal 2022. In the long-term, expenses are growing faster than revenue.
Asst. Town Administrator for Finance Michelle Monsegur explained three different budget scenarios -- reduction of services based on current revenue; maintaining existing services; and the other involving additional services.
Scenarios two and three involve potential $5.5 million and $7.8 million overrides, respectively, for Fiscal 2024 unless additional sources of revenue can be found.
This is on top of the tax impacts that would result from five potential major capital projects that are in the pipeline. All are subject to Town Meeting approval.
"This is the beginning of the town budget process [including the schools over the next five years]," Task Force Chair Liz Klein said.
Advisory Committee member Andrew McElaney suggested, "Maybe we ought to start looking at overrides as being a more normal way for the town to function."
Sarah Melia, another Advisory Committee member, expressed concern about some taxpayers' ability to absorb additional tax increases.
School Committee Chair Kerry Ni called the task force "a really good partnership between the schools and municipal departments that hasn't always existed in the past."
The report outlines 23 recommendations by the task force, which intends to continue its work and the municipal/school partnership.