FY13 town budget shows $795,000 deficit

by Town Reminder

FY13 town budget shows $795,000 deficit
Department budget reductions on horizon

By Kristin Will
Staff Writer, kwill@turley.com

SOUTH HADLEY – A preliminary Fiscal Year 2013 [FY13] budget presented by Town Accountant William Sutton to the Selectboard during its Tuesday meeting reveals a $795,000 deficit in funds.
The preliminary FY13 general fund operating budget, which excludes school budgets and items such as health insurance, has an increase of 5.6 percent over last year’s budget. Essentially, town departments requested budgets large than for what the town can pay.
“There’s definitely going to have to be some work done to try and reduce this deficit,” said Sutton. His estimates are based on Governor Deval Patrick’s budget numbers for the state of Massachusetts and town department budget requests.
Town operating expense requests for FY13 total an estimated $27,691,478 – a total increase of $834,639 from FY12. The increases can be found in just about every department budget request, such as an additional $567,047 from the FY12 budget for the School Department, an additional $125,133 for General Government, $56,894 for Public Safety, $40,237 for the Department of Public Works and $19,403 for the Gaylord Library, among many others. It is not guaranteed departments will receive their requested budgets.
However, the town is expecting an estimated $718,517 in additional funds from the tax levy increase over FY12, totaling $21,801,743, and $56,887 in additional funds over the FY12 budget from the estimated amount of state aid, totaling $10,074,199 this year.
Sutton said town departments were also asked to produce budgets with a five percent reduction from their finalized FY12 budgets. While some complied, it must be noted the submitted, reduced budgets do not demonstrate a department’s ability to operate on that level. Boards that responded included the I.T/Technology department which would, if pressed, eliminate Munis training, freeing up $10,000. Zoning/Appeals would eliminate dues and subscriptions, which would free up $34. The police department stated an inability to fund such a five percent reduction. It’s no question finding non-essential funds to cut is extremely difficult.
“Obviously, reductions are going to have to be looked at, at some point in the game,” said Sutton. “There will be some work to do as we move forward.”
The numbers Sutton presented to the Selectboard Tuesday should be considered as preliminary. Official, final numbers must be ready by April. Additionally, Sutton used the budget figures presented by the governor thus far. It’s possible the numbers could change for the better.
The final Fiscal Year 2012 operating budget was $39,413,134 , which was $306,905 less than the FY11 final budget.