Saturday, January 31, 2009

"....Longmeadow Face(s) hard choices on looming budget cuts

The following story appeared in The Republican on Thursday, January 29
East Longmeadow, Hampden, Longmeadow, Ludlow and Wilbraham face hard choices on looming budget cuts” (click link to view full story)

Here are some excerpts…

Last week, Longmeadow Superintendent of Schools E. Jahn Hart announced the elimination of at least six teaching positions throughout the district for fiscal 2010. The School Department is currently working with a projected $31.2 million with $28 million coming from the town's general fund. Hart said she does not know what will happen with the layoffs.

"We respond to decisions at a town level, so we will see after the Monday night Select Board meeting what changes we will have to make," she said

Editor’s Note: While the $31.2 million proposed school dept budget for FY2010 is $83,000 less than the FY2009 budget it does not include a COLA increase for teacher’s salaries. A 3% COLA increase could add $550,000 to the school dept FY2010 budget.
Longmeadow Finance Director Paul J. Pasterczyk said the town is currently working with a $47 million budget. He said the town will take an estimated hit of $335,000 in the next fiscal year, much less than the anticipated $950,000.

Town Manager Robin L. Crosbie said the governor's cuts will not have as big an impact on the budget as they expected."We had already planned for deeper cuts, so this isn't as bad as we initially thought," Crosbie said. "The accounts that were targeted are not ones that we get a lot of money from. We do not get any additional assistance and only a small amount of lottery aid, so this has a fairly minimal impact on us."

However, Crosbie said the town has to look at the future and the reduction in revenues. "There have already been drops in local receipts and because of that we have indefinitely stopped hiring for positions that have become open in town departments," she said.

Editor’s Note: Hopefully, we may be getting some insight during Monday’s (February 2) Select Board meeting as to how the town plans to meet the expected shortfall in revenue for the current FY2009 budget estimated to be ~$400,000. However, looking at the SB meeting agenda, it doesn’t look like much time has been allocated for discussion of this subject.

Given that the economic situation at both the state and national levels seems to be worsening, the town should anticipate and plan contingencies for still greater cuts in state aid and other town income as we move forward.

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