Friday, January 29, 2010

A Budget Update for Longmeadow

As reported in a previous post a collective bargaining agreement has been signed between the Longmeadow School Committee and the Longmeadow Education Association. While this agreement does not reduce the $2.15 million projected deficit for the FY11 budget, it does provide town leaders some clarity about unresolved potential future salary obligations for the town. The estimated salary budget cost avoidance of this contract vs. a 1% COLA for FY10 and FY11 is estimated to be ~$675,000 assuming that teachers salaries are ~ 75% of the town employees. Let’s hope that the remaining town and school collective bargaining units are considering similar contract agreements as the Longmeadow Education Association.

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There was some additional news this past week regarding the state aid… Governor Patrick announced that his proposed FY11 budget would include level funding for education and unrestricted local aid for cities and towns.

The $2.1 million projected deficit for FY11 discussed at earlier budget meetings (Tri-Board + Select Board) anticipated a 15% cut in local aid for Longmeadow. FY10 state aid for Longmeadow is expected to be $5.6 million (Chapter 70 = $4.34M + unrestricted local aid = $1.23M) … so a 15% shortfall = $837K. If the FY11 budget proposal for level funding for cities and towns passes the legislature, it would shrink the projected FY11 deficit for Longmeadow to $1.31 million.

However, given that this is an election year (and Gov. Patrick is running for re-election with state Treasurer Timothy Cahill as one of his opponents), there is hardly unanimous support for this level funding of local aid to cities and towns given the current economic environment.

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In the past week, Mass State House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Murphy- the chief budget writer from Burlington, MA was quoted as saying: I heard what the Governor said to you yesterday about level funding local aid. Well, good luck to him!”

It looks like it will sometime this summer before Longmeadow will have solid information about how much local aid it will actually receive for FY11! Not much different than last year.

Bottom line

Given the difficult fiscal situation still facing the state of Massachusetts, Longmeadow should continue to plan how it would deal with a significant drop (10-15%) in state aid. Perhaps, the idea of multiple budget scenarios and related cuts should be used as suggested in earlier Tri-Board budget discussions.

Both the School Committee and Select Board will continue intense budget discussions next week and it will be interesting to see what actions each group plans take to meet their assigned targeted cuts (Schools = $1.5 million cut, Town = $650,000 = $2.15 million).

Upcoming dates for the FY 11 Budget Process….
  1. Select Board/ Regular Meeting, February 1 at 7 PM- Police Dept Community Meeting Room

  2. School Committee- Special Meeting- February 4 at 7 PM in the School Committee Room at Longmeadow HS to discuss the School Department FY 2011 Budget.

  3. School Committee- Public Hearing- February 8 at 7 PM in the LHS Cafeteria- on the Longmeadow School Committee budget.

  4. School Committee/ Select Board- Special Meeting- February 24 at 7 PM in the School Committee Room FY2011 Budget Presentation

  5. February 26- FY2011 budget submission by Town Manager to Select Board

Check the Town Calendar at LongmeadowBiz for the latest calendar of scheduled events.

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