Budget Appropriations and Accounting
The Town of West Boylston operates under state statutes and Town Bylaws as amended to establish the Selectmen-Town Administrator form of government. The legislative body of West Boylston is an Open Town Meeting. Town Meeting has the sole authority to appropriate funds for the operating budget and capital projects except for specific instances where statutes or regulations do not require appropriation. Any amendments to appropriations require Town Meeting vote at either a regular or Special Town Meeting. The procedures for Town Meeting are specified in Article 1 of the Town of West Boylston By-Laws.
The budget presents only the General Fund, which is required by state statute to be appropriated by Town Meeting. Revenues from Special Revenue Funds such as sewer betterment fees and monies from the sale of cemetery lots are used to offset specific departmental budgets. These funds are use in accordance with laws designed to provide funding sources for specific purposes.
The budget for the Town is presented on a modified accrual basis. Briefly, this means that transactions are recorded when expenditures are dispersed and when revenues are received. Obligations of the Town (i.e. outstanding purchase orders) are not reflected as expenditures in the year incurred but are reflected in the year disbursed. Funds for these obligations are reflected in the year disbursed. Funds for these obligations are reflected as ‘continued’ appropriations from prior fiscal years.
Major Upcoming Issues
Looking forward, there are a number of things facing the Town that need the particular attention of the Town Officials and the citizens:
- Revenue shortfalls: Without question, the largest concern the Town is facing is the potential for losses of revenues. We have seen losses of revenues in most major categories of revenues however things are starting to improve. State aid has dropped rapidly over the last few years. While the Finance Director and I are still very pessimistic about revenues for this year, I am hopeful that next year will be an improvement for municipal governments in Massachusetts.
- Building/facility needs: Not surprising to anyone who has general knowledge of the Town’s facilities, this issue remains a serious problem to the Town’s citizens, employees and future generations. Presently, the Town is leasing office space at 127 Hartwell Street in the industrial district. While the Town has a Municipal Building Advisory Committee looking at his problem, there are no easy solutions available to the Town at this point.
- Costs of personnel benefits: As was mentioned previously, the dramatic cost increases associated with personnel and personnel related benefits are one of the largest ‘budget busters’ that most employers face, and West Boylston is no different. In the past few years, the Town has made great strides in taking steps to control our costs, particularly in health insurance and general insurance. However, West Boylston, like many towns, has seen annual double digit increases in health insurance that have had serious implications on the Town’s budget. We must now look to the state for legislative changes to help municipalities deal with the issues of pension liabilities and rising health care increases.
In summary, the FY12 Budget as proposed is balanced as written. It also provides for the continued financial stability of the Town and attempts to maintain essential services in spite of slowing revenues. However the Town Administration still has work to do in order to ensure that West Boylston continues to be a good place to live, work, play and raise a family. We must continue to reduce costs wherever possible and plan carefully for the future. Comprehensive and realistic planning will only become more crucial as we head into even more years of fiscal uncertainty.
LEON A. GAUMOND JR.