This week’s Select Board discussion on the FY11 budget provided some good insight into the current “state of town finances”. However, what I observed was not very encouraging. The uncertainty about the level of local state aid makes this current budget development process very difficult. The current budget proposal assumes a 15% drop in state aid. There was some discussion at this meeting as to whether or not this number should be reduced since the rhetoric from Boston in this election year suggests that the state will deliver.
Below are two short video excerpts (less than 10 min. each) from this meeting that are worth watching. The first is an overview of the town government portion of the FY11 draft budget discussed by Town Manager Robin Crosbie. It should be noted that a final budget will not be adopted by the Select Board until March 22.
Ms. Crosbie highlighted that town expenditures were being reduced through various means including a reduction of normal maintenance work (essential repairs only), a cut in library hours (50 hours to 45 hours), less maintenance of athletic fields (+ reduced fertilizer, water, etc…). In addition, there are headcount reductions at the library and DPW. Ms. Crosbie did mention that she was hoping that Carl Sturgis, Library Director would be able to restore library hours to 50 hours by shifting some other sections of the budget.
The second clip includes comments by Select Board members Rob Aseltine and Mark Gold highlighting that the town budget at the level of current services is unsustainable due to the faster growth of expenditures relative to revenue. In addition, the level of expenditures for the current budget is too high. The choices are either continuing cuts in services that will erode our quality of life in many ways or accepting the need for periodic overrides to keep pace with the escalating costs and lower revenue growth.
There is a budget forum that will be held on March 9 at 7 PM in the Longmeadow HS cafeteria. I urge all town residents to attend or watch it on LCTV. The FY11 budget is an important issue affecting all Longmeadow residents.
[The above video clips were provided courtesy of LongmeadowBiz + LCTV. A web broadcast of entire Select Board/ School Committee meetings can watched by visiting the LCTV website.]