Budget Process Getting Underway Amid Concern Over State Aid
Wednesday night, the town holds its annual budget summit, beginning a process that leads up to the April town meeting.
Tonight at 7 p.m. at the Lynnfield Senior Center, town department heads will be on hand to talk with town officials about their projected budget needs for the coming year.
The town's financial picture remains generally stable, with help from the coming MarketStreet at Lynnfield project as well as the deal a couple of years ago to lower health insurance costs for municipal employees. However, one thing to watch for in the coming weeks will be whether the state moves to lower its local aid for fiscal year 2014.
This week, Governor Deval Patrick announced an expected $540 million shortfall in the FY 2013 state budget and he proceeded to lay out a series of cuts to help close it. Many media outlets noted that Patrick's plan includes $225 million in spending cuts from state executive branch agencies, and the use of $200 million from the state's rainy day fund.
However, a look at Patrick's announcement from Tuesday finds a handful of smaller budget-saving measures listed - including the following:
"$9 million from a 1% across the board reduction to unrestricted local aid. The Governor has filed legislation that ensures if lottery profits exceed the $1.026 billion amount currently budgeted in FY13, all of such excess proceeds be committed to increasing the amount of unrestricted local aid."
According to figures provided by town hall, Lynnfield's projected FY '14 revenues are $44,447,277.93, which would be a 2.82% increase over the FY '13 budget. However, these figures also includes a zero percent increase in state aid at a time when the previously mentioned shortfall is making a decrease more of a possibility.
After Wednesday night's budget summit, the various town departments are expected to have their respective budgets to the finance committee in January, with the school budget due on January 30. Lynnfield's FY '14 budget calendar calls for the town administrator to recommend a budget and capital plan to the selectmen by February 11, 2013. The selectmen are expected to vote on a final budget on March 11, with a finance committee vote expected March 20. Town meeting is scheduled for April 29, 2013.