Sunday, April 27, 2008


As I highlighted in my last Buzz posting… in order to live within the town’s financial means there is a need to look at longer term fiscal planning.
Last week the LONGMEADOW FINANCE COMMITTEE issued their report to the Annual Town Meeting and recommended that the General Fund operating budget be reduced by $89,000 rather than using $89,000 from the Operating Stabilization Fund.

The committee recommended against supporting the General Operating Budget as proposed. “….we feel we need to reduce this proposed budget by $89,000 and save all we can for 2010.”

Their reasoning was based upon looking forward at next year’s (FY2010) difficult budget process wherein all town employees salary contracts (including teachers) will be renegotiated.

Last year’s BUDGET STRATEGIES COMMITTEE proposed a path forward through 2010 after recommending a Prop 2½ $2.15 million override. It was clear at that time that balancing the FY2010 budget without a Prop 2½ override was going to be a challenge.

Some excerpts from the latest LFC report…

The first responsibility of the Finance Committee is to present to Town Meeting and all the citizens of Longmeadow a budget that balances the interests of all citizens, regardless of what level they use our myriad of premium town services, and a budget that is sustainable over the long term. …. Integrated in our challenge to balance resources and uses for the next fiscal year we are charged to advise the town on the impact the proposed budget will have on long term fiscal planning. As a town our challenge is to live within the means of the allowed annual 2 ½% increase in the tax levy without frequent Proposition 2 ½ overrides to finance our shortfalls.

The FC report also recommends a series of “facilitated forums” starting in September 2008 to get resident input on how to meet the upcoming FY2010 budget challenges. This is certainly a step in the right direction but how about extending the path forward to FY2012 rather than reverting back to the one year at a time planning process. And while this planning process is underway the town should also consider integration of possible future major capital expenditures (new/ renovated high school, DPW facility, et al) into the budget process in a more comprehensive approach to town finances.

I would strongly recommend that town residents read both the ATM warrant and the Longmeadow Finance Committee report and attend Tuesday night’s Annual Town Meeting. (starts at 7 PM at Longmeadow HS).

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