Reading, MA — The Finance Committee voted at its March 7 meeting to recommend ten of the 17 articles on the Town Meeting warrant. All ten articles were recommended by a vote of 7-0 and deal with issues of funding or finance. The committee voted in a prior meeting to recommend the Fiscal Year 2019 balanced budget to Town Meeting. The committee typically does not vote as a group on articles that do not deal with financial issues.
Most of the discussion focused on the need for public safety overtime. Fire Chief Greg Burns explained that overtime increases at times of the year where vacations overlap with unforeseen injuries on and off the job. “You need to be in top condition to report to work (as a firefighter). Town Manager Robert LeLacheur explained. “I can come to work in any condition. They cannot.”
LeLacheur also reported that the average annual increase for health insurance over the last ten years has been two point nine percent, which is considered excellent. LeLacheur also expounded that the number is a little skewed due to a restructuring of how health insurance was paid by the town in 2010, which led to a 13 percent decrease in that one year alone. Trends over the last three years have been for five to seven percent increase in health insurance costs to the town. The committee also expects to ask Town Meeting to move the budget discussion to the second night, so it can be dealt with alone. “It is a good solid two nights of town meeting, possibly three.” LeLacheur predicted. Town Meeting is scheduled to begin on April 23.
The Finance Committee also scheduled and planned a Financial Forum for March 28, for the purpose of answering questions from residents regarding the Proposition 2 1/2 override question on the ballot for the April 3 local election. The Finance Committee adjourned at 8:40 PM.