Potential for Town Budget Cuts Discussed During Public Hearing

By Alex Malm

The Town Council and Budget Committee met jointly during a public hearing on Dec. 5 regarding next year’s budget, and dispite a number of ideas proposed on cuts, none were made.
Finance Director, Justin Campo, said he went through all the personnel changes for the police and fire departments and found a decrease of $102,000 for the proposed budget. In addition, Campo said they also saw an increase in revenue.
He said they went from about $15.4 million to $16 million in revenue.
In terms of overtime, Campo said they went through all the different overtime lines to put it in line with what they historically spend.
One suggestion that was raised during the previous meeting was in terms of funding public safety positions by putting it as a Warrant Article and asking the voters to decide.
Town Manager, Mike Malaguti, stated they are working with their attorney to see how the warrant article can be worded. The warrant article would likely be for $300,000 to $400,000.
“I would mark that item in process at this moment in time,” said Malaguti.
Another major item that was discussed was the Library .
It was asked what programs they would be able to cut.
“To be honest we can’t and we don’t want to,” said Library Director, Erin Matlin.
Matlin explained they have a lot of patrons for their programs and in the last seven months they had 156 programs and over 6,000 patrons, they also get many requests for more programs.
She said by not approving the warrant article for an additional employee they would have to cut programs.
Additionally, it was decided to keep the community services grant fund at $50,000, instead of reducing it to $25,000, which was previously discussed.
During the meeting, members of the Budget Committee also expressed their concerns with not seeing cuts being made.
Town Council Chairman, John Farrell, said the issue is they have very little to cut without impacting services they provide.
“I don’t know what services to cut,” said Farrell.
Budget Committee member, Patrick Cassidy, said they want to be able to get a budget approved that isn’t just the default budget.
“We want to get off of that train,” said Cassidy.
Budget Committee Chair, Steve Breault, said they were asked to look at suggested cuts to the budget, however, he said they haven’t seen any of them being enacted.
“It seems like what the budget committee has presented I haven’t seen any changes,” said Breault.
Malguti stated that going into the budget presentation they looked at where they could reduce spending and said previously that in total, $422,990 of the department requests were rejected as part of the Town Manager’s proposed budget.
Town Council Vice Chair, Joe Green, said he wanted to see what recommended cuts they could make without cutting staff.
Malaguti said one thing that comes to the top of his mind would be Old Home Days.
“That would be a big chunk of it,” said Malaguti.
No cuts were made to the proposed budget during the meeting.

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