Town boards look for common ground on budgets tonight

For the past several months, the Board of Selectmen and the Advisory Committee have been working largely independently to come up with a set of budget recommendations to present to voters at town meeting next week. Tonight they’ll sit down to talk about their recommendations and, where there are differences, attempt to reach common ground.

There are a number of relatively minor differences in their recommendations – a couple of grand here, a couple of grand there for things like the legal, DPW, and Council on Aging budgets. And then there are some more significant differences.

Notably, the Advisory Committee is recommending that an additional $45K be cut from the police department budget. On the flip side, they recommend giving $40K more to the K-8 schools than the Selectmen do.

Some of the most significant differences of opinion between the two boards center around this year’s capital requests. The Advisory Committee is recommending $89K for school technology, whereas the Selectmen recommend skipping school tech purchases entirely this year.

Selectmen support the police department’s $30K request to replace a cruiser that has about 99K miles, while the Advisory Committee does not. The committee has said they would like to see the police department wait until the cruiser has 125K miles before replacing it.

Every year the warrant features an article to fund road maintenance. This year Advisory supports the full request at $250K, but the Selectmen recommend reducing the maintenance fund to $150K.

Another area of dissent is whether to tap into the town’s Stabilization fund — the so-called rainy day fund — to help reduce the levy. Advisory says yes, Selectmen say no. I’ll have more on this topic in an upcoming post.

Tonight’s meeting starts at 6:00 pm at Cordaville Hall (Senior Center) with a run-through of the warrant with Town Moderator David Coombs. The budget discussion starts at 6:30 pm. The meeting is open to the public.

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