The Finance Committee (FinCom) unanimously approved a $95,589,444 balanced budget at its meeting on February 15. The budget includes $25.5 million for the municipal government and $42.7 million for the Reading Public Schools and balances the budget with $1.2 million from free cash reserves. FinCom voted on each of 26 line items one at a time and these are the items that will be presented for Town Meeting approval in April if a Proposition 2 1/2 override does not pass in the April 3 election. If an override does pass, the FinCom will have to vote to recommend the additional funding to Town Meeting.
Town Manager Robert LeLacheur highlighted portions of the long-term capital plan for the committee as well. Included in the plan are updates to Killam Elementary School, a new DPW garage, building security initiatives, and work needed on infrastructure in the downtown area. LeLacheur was quick to point out that none of these projects will happen soon, but he wanted to let the committee know that they potentially are on the horizon.
LeLacheur also asked for permission from the FinCom to deficit spend for snow and ice removal if the current $125,000 still available in the budget for this purpose is insufficient. “It is the only area we are allowed to deficit spend.” LeLacheur commented. He indicated that any overage spent would probably be covered by free cash. “Hopefully we won’t need it.” LeLacheur concluded. The FinCom voted 9-0 to approve the measure.
Committee member Vanessa Alvarado questioned whether or not the FinCom should host an additional Financial Forum prior to the override vote on April 3. The committee made no commitment to do so.
FinCom adjourned at 8:52 PM and will meet next on March 7.