The week in government

by susan on March 15, 2010

Here are you meetings for the week. Of note, the regional school committee will hold a public hearing on Wednesday on the proposed budget for the 2010-2011 school year.

Monday, March 15

  • Regional School Comm. Naming Subcommittee, 5:30 pm @ Library Classroom D-110i, Algonquin
  • Historical Commission, 6:30 pm @ Upper Hall, Cordaville Hall
  • Advisory Committee, 7:30 pm @Hearing Room, Town House

Tuesday, March 16

  • Library Board of Trustees, 5:00 pm @ Southborough Library
  • Board of Selectmen, 6:00 pm @ Hearing Room, Town House (agenda)

Wednesday, March 17

  • Regional School Comm. Student Advisory Subcommittee, 6:00 pm @ Library Classroom D-110i, Algonquin
  • Regional School Committee, 7:00 pm @ Library, Algonquin (agenda)

Thursday, March 18

  • Regional School Comm. Health & Wellness Advisory Council, 8:00 am @ Library, Algonquin
  • Conservation Commission, 7:30 pm @ Hearing Room, Town House (agenda)

Friday, March 19

  • No meetings scheduled
1 Al Hamilton March 16, 2010 at 1:04 PM

The Advisory Committee has met for the last 2 weeks and the broad outlines of a budget are now solidifying.

The bottom line at this point is that the Advisory budget would reflect a 2.9% tax increase on the typical home for next year.

Almost all municipal departments are experiencing budget reductions on the order of 1-4%. Advisory cut the money under it’s control (Reserve Fund) by 25%

The K-8 Schools including benefits will increase 2.5%. However, this reflects a loss of about $460,000 in state funding for special ed which we are obliged to pick up. The actual operating budget net of the Commonwealth stiffing us is down about $200,000 or -1.2%. There will be layoffs in the K-8 schools. The k-8 school population is down about 100 students from its 2004 peak.

Algonquin is up about 5%. The total Algonquin budget, as proposed, is almost flat owing to the use of the regional equivalent of the stabilization fund. The increase comes from a dramatic increase in the % of students from Southborough. In the past about 70%-75% of Southborough 8th graders moved to 9th grade in Algonquin, this year, perhaps because of the economy, that number is over 90%. That swings the percentage of students toward us and obliges us to pick up a greater percentage of the costs. Advisory has voted a sum that is $50,000 less than requested by the Regional School Committee.

Warrant articles have been sharply curtailed

K-8 Technology has been reduced by about $40,000
DPW Equipment has been reduced by about $98,000 – The suggestion was to hire a private contractor for the sanding and salting instead of spending this sum on a truck with a sander.
Police Crusiers have been eliminated and it was suggested that we plan on getting 125k miles out of our existing fleet instead of less than 100k
Senior Center Renovations have been reduced to about $119k (there is no budget impact on this item)
The capital maintenance fund will be replenished at a slightly lower rate.
The Overlay Reserve has been reduced by $200,000 – We are investigating if we have the authority to actually recommend this change.

This budget also takes about $490,000 out of stabilization leaving about $400,000 in the stabilization which the Advisory Committee feels is the minimum amount that should be left in that fund.

This budget does not deal with some of the larger issues that drive costs in town including the inefficient occupancy pattern, inefficient staffing, benefits costs, and services that perhaps we should no longer offer at public expense.

At this point, while the current increase is 2.9% with some upside risk, the maximum allowed before we hit the Prop 2.5 cap is about 4.7%. There will be organized support for the restoration of some of the cuts that have been suggested and if history is followed some of this money will be restored on the floor of town meeting unless there is an organized constituency that says no.

There are still several opportunities for cuts we are investigating. I believe that the Advisory will be making an attempt to offer a path to a 0% budget if residents are interested. The spreadsheets are available to do this and support for any interested citizen group who wants to use them for cuts or increases is available.

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