The public forum last Tuesday night (March 9) at Longmeadow HS on the proposed FY11 budget was a chance for town residents to provide some guidance to the Select Board as they make the necessary final FY11 budget cuts. At this meeting town residents provided balanced feedback citing the importance of schools, library, parks and recreation programs, senior center, police/ fire.... not wanting cuts from any of these important town programs.
Below are a couple of video clips (courtesy of LCTV) of comments made by town residents expressing their concern for cuts in various programs. [A web rebroadcast of the entire public forum is posted on LCTV's website.]
The first video shows town resident Jamie Cass- a Springfield teacher commenting on the town’s outstanding Parks and Recreation program and the Storrs Library and asks that the Select Board not cut funds to either program.
The second video is town resident Irene Madden- a career school librarian and Storrs Library board member overviewing all of the many programs provided by the Children’s Library staff.
The third video clip shows town resident Saul Finestone appealing to the Select Board not to cut the Longmeadow Adult Center budget because of all the important programs that it provides for senior citizens in our town.
I think that it's important to understand that there have been many more cuts proposed than will likely be needed to create a balanced FY11 budget. The ongoing budget discussions involve identifying potential budget cuts and then prioritizing them.
The latest information yesterday from the state legislature recommended that towns prepare for a 4% maximum cut in local aid. This should provide some relief for the FY11 budget and allow the Select Board to restore some of the proposed budget cuts.
The Select Board has another goal and that is to create a "sustainable budget" so the current fiscal problems do not reappear year after year. "Our expenditures are too high and the rate of increase too great to be sustainable and must be reduced." This message is repeated at virtually every SB meeting since November. It will be very interesting to see how budget process ends up... it is the not the first time that our town leaders have tried to tackle the imbalance of expenditures vs. revenue growth.
It is not too late to provide your inputs to the Select Board regarding proposed program cuts in the FY11 budget. The Select Board will meet again on March 15 to discuss the budget and there is a public comment period at the beginning of the meeting.
On March 22 the SB will approve the final FY11 budget (town + schools) to be presented at the Annual Town Meeting on May 11.