At their February 13 meeting, the Finance Committee reviewed the FY21 budget model, assessed the use of free cash, and voted to recommend approval of multiple articles on the Annual Town Meeting warrant.
Review of Model
Finance Director Victor Garofalo projected an increase in the budget line for Shawsheen Technical High School due to an increase in the number of Bedford students in attendance. This change will be reflected in the next model budget.
The review of the FY21 budget model extended into a discussion over the town’s use of free cash.
The projection of the roughly $125,000 increase to free cash in FY21 is “conservative,” according to Garofalo. He explained that his conservative projection is based on a higher interest rate than what will ultimately be applied.
Garofalo stressed the importance of Bedford’s good economic condition and said that maintaining conservative estimates ensures that Bedford remains economically sustainable. A 6% increase in the tax rate will result in an average increase of $100 based on a home at the average assessed value.
Annual Town Meeting Warrant
As the Finance Committee reviewed Article 5, many members utilized the opportunity to understand the article better. Article 5 is a revolving fund general bylaw amendment that establishes the Tree Mitigation Revolving Fund.
This fund would collect fees from contractors who cut down public trees. (Trees that are defined as public trees are planted alongside roads and on public land.) Currently, such fees are added to the general fund. Town meeting may or may not approve funds for replacement at a later time.
Finance Committee member David Powell explained that this fund would be utilized to immediately plant trees rather than waiting for an appropriation.
Finance Committee Chair Ben Thomas echoed Powell and explained that establishing a revolving fund will help ensure that trees are replenished when cut down.
Article 5 was recommended for approval.
The Committee then recommended approval of Articles 6, 7, 23’s 21-28, 21-29, 21-30, 24, 25, and 38.
Finance Committee Chair Ben Thomas, along with other members of the committee, voiced frustration with the lack of consistency with meeting minutes in many of the town’s committees. The committee stressed the importance of posting consistent, accurate meeting minutes as other committees need to rely on their work to be effective.
On March 3, the Finance and Capital Expenditure Committees will hold a joint meeting to discuss land acquisition for the proposed new fire station. More can be read about this project here.