From Town of Belmont - Warrant Committee
FY2013 Budget Update
April 3, 2012

(The following is an excerpt from a letter sent to all Town Meeting Members.)

Revenue available for operating expenses ("available revenue").
A key number in developing Belmont's budget is the revenue that will be available to meet ongoing expenses after subtracting the Town's fixed costs (repayment of debt, state charges, etc) from its income. The current estimate of $73,759,000 is approximately $109,000 higher than the estimate prepared in November 2011.** The House budget, due to be released around April 25 is the major uncertainty at this point.

In addition, the Selectmen succeeded in negotiating changes in the Town's health insurance plan that will produce savings of $354,000 in FY2013 and $468,000 in FY 2014 and thereafter. These recurring savings can be used to support new programs and recurring expenses.

One time revenues.
It did not snow much this winter, saving money. During FY2012, the town received storm damage reimbursement from FEMA. It is possible that the state will provide a one time distribution to towns in the fall of 2013. These unanticipated, one time cash items will total $478,000 to $600,000. Since one time money should not be used for recurring expenses, the challenge is to productively apply these mini- windfalls to town needs without incurring unsustainable expenses for FY2014.

** The Town Treasurer's refinancing of the fire stations and other debt reduced interest charges by $140,000 per year but by law this must be refunded to taxpayers.

From State Representative Will Brownsberger
Questions and Answers about the House Budget
April 19, 2010

The House begins its Fiscal 2011 budget debate next week. While we will seek to amend the budget in many ways, the major outlines of the budget are unlikely to change.

The real skinny is that health care costs have continued to rise, crowding out other priorities at both the state and local level. Many state agencies have taken deep absolute cuts and the state workforce is shrinking, as it tends to in recessions. Analysts expect the financial pressure to continue through 2012. As to non-health-care spending, local governments have done better than most state agencies, although local governments are also being squeezed.

Here are some more detailed answers to basic questions about the budget:  Click here for Budget Q&A 

From Phil Curtis, Chair, Warrant Committee
Program Analysis / Structural Change
February 24, 2010

…This year, for the first time, we are making a strong effort to understand the various budgets from a programmatic standpoint: what services/programs are provided by each department, what resources are devoted to each program, how well do we perform when measured against other communities or sensible metrics, and how important is the program to the central mission of the department. We believe that the better we can understand and explain the budget programmatically, the easier it will be for elected officials and Town Meeting to make the difficult political decisions that are involved in allocating scarce resources… Click here to view the entire message.

From Ralph Jones, Board of Selectmen
Thank you for
February 16, 2010

As I said at the last Town Meeting, I appreciated the thoughtful discussion about the role of Town Meeting Members. Since the Government Structure Review Committee's primary objective was to find a way to make the Town Meeting into a more active, deliberative body (particularly on the budget), your organization meets those needs… Click here to view the entire message.

From Tom Younger, Town Administrator
Town Administrator’s Report, Preliminary FY2011 Budget
February 8, 2010

(The following is an excerpt from the full report.)

FY2011 is shaping up to be one of the most challenging ones of my career. In FY2010 we used one time Federal Stimulus funds to balance a budget that was bare bones. Without those funds the reductions in personnel would have been much greater… Revenues continue to drop – state coffers are slimmer than ever, the one time Federal Stimulus Money is not expected to return, and even local receipts from Motor Vehicle Excise taxes and Building permits are falling…

Now we are at a crossroads. In which direction does the Town want to go? Do we try to maintain the same level of services for non essential functions (rink, pool, trash collection, council on aging, and recreation)? Perhaps now is the time to make the difficult decision of which non core services to cut in order to minimize or eliminate the need for an operating override…

Click here to download the full FY2011 Town Administrator’s Report to the Board of Selectmen (14 pages).