After watching the 2021 budget presentation by the town administrator, my personal reaction was simply one word: Wow!
I was amazed that the balance in free cash is 240 percent over the free cash financial policy guideline ($8,250,807 is the current balance, versus the policy guideline of $3,433,995). I am the first to admit that budgeting and spending is not an exact science and that the financial status of running any service organization can result from time to time in either surpluses or deficits.
Looking back at Bourne’s “free cash” history, it appears that significant jumps in the amount of unspent budget dollars (that is, turnbacks) started in 2017 and have continued through the 2021 proposed budget.
It was also clear from data that appeared in the town administrator’s 2021 budget presentation that we, the taxpayers, fund 71 percent of the requested annual budget dollars. If I adjust the current “free cash” balance to meet the free cash policy requirements, ($8.251 million minus the free-cash policy requirement of $3.434 million), there is a remaining dollar amount of $4.817 million.
Why isn’t 71 percent of the unspent dollars labeled “free cash” ($3.420 million) refunded back to us, the taxpayers, or earmarked as a down payment to add value to the town like the new fire station now under committee discussion? Whose cash is this?
One conclusion is certain, it is not “free.” I am anxious to hear from the finance committee on what positive actions the committee recommends to invest almost $4 million in taxpayers’ dollars and bring free cash in line with the town’s financial policy.
Richard W. Conron