Guerino Unveils Proposed Budget For FY2011
By: Diana T. Barth
Selectmen were presented Tuesday with a proposed $51.1 million operating budget, some $78,000 less than this year’s budget, one which would be balanced with the use of $1.5 million in reserves.
After having described the budget decisions as “wrenching,” Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino said no general fund or capital spending overrides were being recommended, however, and no layoffs were planned for the town side of the budget.
Mr. Guerino added that he could not speak for the school committee as to layoffs. The town’s schools, he said, would be funded at the same level as they were at the beginning of this fiscal year, before they had to make cuts to make cuts in the wake of a major accounting error. Control over how that amount is allocated lies with the school committee, he said.
The Department of Integrated Solid Waste Management, which runs the Bourne landfill, appears to be “turning the corner” on both of the major issues plaguing it, economics and odor control. The facility is now “well run,” Mr. Guerino said. The landfill’s proposed $9.2 million budget is about $119,000 less than what was budgeted this year.
Turning to the sewer enterprise fund, he said that the intermunicipal agreement between Wareham and Bourne had been renegotiated and was ready for signing. The proposed sewer budget is about $908,000, up a little more than $5,000 over this year’s budget.
Debt service for past borrowing will be up, and payments in lieu of taxes for state-owned land down, for FY 2011.
The town, Mr. Guerino said, will have to pay for any incentive bonuses to police officers that had been funded by the state through what is referred to as the Quinn Bill. The town has maintained police salaries as the state funding decreased, but that issue may need to be reviewed. The cost of that program is about $300,000, he said.
As part of his town charter-required budget speech, Mr. Guerino told selectmen that there were three positions he would like to see added to next year’s budget, the economy notwithstanding. If selectmen were to decide the town needs all of them, the startup costs and salaries for those positions would require a further $250,000.
The first of those positions would give Finance Director Linda A. Marzelli an assistant. Mr. Guerino said Ms. Marzelli was “remarkable in her abilities,” and that the addition of an accounting position would free her to do the forecasting and analysis that the town needs.
The second was the need for a full-time human resources director. Mr. Guerino said he particularly felt the lack of such a professional this year, when almost all of the town’s union contracts are up for renegotiation.
Recruitment, training, monitoring of the adherence to contracts, scheduling performance reviews, and other personnel requirements are met by such a director in other neighboring towns, Mr. Guerino said.
Sandwich, Falmouth, and Barnstable, for example, all have such a position, he said.
The third position he advocated was that of a licensed professional engineer. That position, he said, would save the town a considerable amount in consulting fees and could help provide a transition when the town’s current engineering staff retires.
Mr. Guerino noted that Department of Public Works Director Rickie J. Tellier and the engineering department’s Michael Leitzel are approaching retirement, and that having someone already working for the town who has gained familiarity with operations would be a good idea.
The selectmen will be considering whether to add any or all of those positions as the budget process moves forward.
The numbers presented to selectmen this week were just the first of many revisions expected to be made between now and the annual May Town Meeting, when voters will be asked to approve the budget. The preliminary figures did not include capital outlay expenditures.
Mr. Guerino began by saying that he had to cut some $420,000 from his proposed budget last week, as projections showed that much of a decrease in expected revenue.
The good news, he said, was that for the last several years, the town has been prudent and has followed its established policy on reserves.
That policy says the town should keep seven percent of its operating budget in free cash reserves and five percent in stabilization. That means the town should have an amount equaling 12 percent of its operating budget in reserves.
Going into FY2011, Bourne has 16.2 percent of the projected budget set aside.
That money was reserved for difficult times, Mr. Guerino said, before adding that “we are in the midst of difficult times now.”
He said the use of $1.5 million in reserves, combined with expected year-end revenue of $850,000, will still leave the town with adequate reserves for Fiscal Year 2012. Mr. Guerino expects that it will be 2013 before the economy recovers, so reserves will be needed beyond the coming fiscal year.
He projected that, were the $1.5 million to be used this year, the reserve balance would be about $6.95 million at the end of the next fiscal year, leaving it a cushion for 2012.
The finance committee is expected to begin looking at the proposed budget on Monday. Selectmen tentatively set February 2 to begin reviewing major departmental budgets with those departments’ heads.
The board is planning to hold joint meetings with the finance committee throughout the budget season.
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