The Town of Mashpee does not expect to run a deficit in Fiscal Year 2020, and the coronavirus crisis has not raised alarm over the financial condition of the town, Town Manager Rodney C. Collins told the selectmen during a virtual meeting on Monday, April 27.
The cursory review of the town’s finances comes as the health crisis has upset the economic status quo and as nonessential businesses remain closed throughout Massachusetts. A more-comprehensive review will take place at a future selectmen’s meeting.
“I think we’re far from pushing any panic buttons yet, but we’re monitoring the situation,” Mr. Collins said.
“Mashpee is currently in a very good financial condition with healthy reserves, we have $5 million in stabilization funds, we have remaining free cash of $3.5 million if the articles were passed at Town Meeting as they currently stand,” the town manager said.
Selectmen chairman Andrew R. Gottlieb requested the financial review and suggested it continue at future meetings of the board.
“I think this is on a lot of people’s minds, and a lot of people are forming opinions about what we should and shouldn’t do and I think it’s important to understand what the drivers are between our revenue collections and our expenses,” Mr. Gottlieb said.
The town manager said the town’s financial team expects to close out the 2020 fiscal year without a deficit.
“At this particular time there is no revenue deficit expected for Fiscal Year 2020,” Mr. Collins said. “We have currently met our estimates as reported on the Fiscal Year 2020 tax recap, revenues are currently roughly $900,000 higher than the same quarter in Fiscal Year 2019.”
Mr. Collins said the biggest concern in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year is what will happen with investment income, which he said the town treasurer is monitoring closely.
“The market has been very volatile, as you know, and it makes it very difficult for any kind of predictions,” Mr. Collins said.
In the coming fiscal year the expected $3.5 million in state aid is the largest concern for the financial team, the town manager said.
“We’re going to be monitoring that very closely just to make sure that our state aid is not reduced,” he said.
Mr. Gottlieb asked, “What percentage of our overall collections are permit fees and licenses?”
Mr. Collins replied that he did not have the specific figures in front of him, but that those figures could be provided at an upcoming meeting.
“I don’t think we’re going to get into too much trouble there,” he said.
The town manager said that he is “strongly encouraging turnbacks” from town departments, that real estate collections continue to match FY 2019, and that an unused $300,000 for snow and ice removal is likely to become free cash.
The town will review capital expenditures planned for FY 2021 and may hold off on some—such as upgrades to library furniture—if necessary, Mr. Collins said. Departments have been advised not to implement new projects or initiatives in FY 2021.
New hires will be made on a case-by-case basis, Mr. Collins said. The town manager said he is also considering requiring all overtime, other than for public safety departments, to go through his office.
The town will also look at ways to offset the tax burden without restricting the budget by using free cash as a funding source, Mr. Collins said.
“I would like to see a lot of this in writing because there are so many numbers to take in all at once,” Selectman Thomas O’Hara said.
Mr. Gottlieb said the conversation about the town’s finances will continue at future meetings.
“I would like this to be a standing part of our conversation at our meetings,” Mr. Gottlieb said. “I was expecting positive news, we received positive news, we do do a good job, staff does do a good job, but it’s important to check in on it frequently.”
Mr. Collins said the finance team is working on an analysis comparing the impacts of the coronavirus crisis on the town to the impacts of the financial crisis in 2008.