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.

click here to read full story

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.

click here to read full story

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.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Longmeadow Teachers Agree to 0% COLA

The Longmeadow School Committee and the Longmeadow Education Association have reached a two-year collective bargaining agreement that provides for a 0% COLA for FY2010 and FY2011. Below is the official press release....

"The Longmeadow School Committee and the Longmeadow Education Association are very pleased to announce that they have reached a two-year collective bargaining agreement with the Association’s approximately 285 teachers, counselors, and specialists. During the negotiations that resulted in this agreement, the Committee and the Association recognized the extraordinary financial challenges facing the District. Although we are in difficult financial times, we all kept our “eyes on the child” and reached an agreement that does not further stress our financial resources. The agreement, which the LEA ratified last week and the School Committee approved this evening, provides for zero percent cost of living adjustments (COLAs) in FY 2010 and 2011, permits a temporary reduction in professional development days over the two-year period, and goes through August 31, 2011. The Committee and the Association are pleased that we have reached an agreement especially at this critical budget time."

Now that this contract has been settled... will the other town employee collective bargaining units without contracts for FY2010 and FY2011 do the same and accept a 0% COLA?

As summarized in a recent post (Tough Times Ahead for Longmeadow- Part IV, 1/10/10) achieving a balanced FY2011 budget will be very difficult with a current projected budget deficit of over $2 million. This agreement to a 0% COLA for FY2010 and FY2011 provides significant financial relief to the town of Longmeadow and allows our town leaders to create a balanced FY2011 budget without the uncertainty of a teachers union collective bargaining agreement.

A large thank you to Longmeadow teachers!