The Finance Committee (FinCom) unanimously voted to approve all 23 line items in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget on Wednesday, March 13. The municipal budget for FY2020 is $28,828,795 for a 3.6% increase over FY2019. The School Department budget is $46,767,348 for a 4.3% increase over FY2019 and the shared costs budget is $26,639,364 for a .4% decrease from FY2019. The committee also voted 7-0 to approve the water, sewer, and stormwater enterprise budgets totaling $14,196,300. The final step in the budget process will be the approval by the April Town Meeting.
FinCom also discussed 13 of the 17 April Town Meeting warrant articles that deal with financial issues. FinCom voted unanimously to support all 13 discussed. The 14th article, dealing with security issues, will be voted on after a joint executive session with the Select Board, School Committee, and Board of Library Trustees on April 11. Articles 21 through 23 are land acquisition articles. Any vote on these articles by the committee needs to happen after the Select Board takes action on March 26.
Initial discussion focused around Article 10, which would establish an enterprise account for the PEG access corporation, RCTV, and how that would work practically. The account would be funded by fees paid by cable subscribers and paid to the town by the cable companies, Comcast and Verizon. Payments to RCTV from the cable companies have decreased in the last year or so according to RCTV Executive Director Philip Rushworth due to more and more people “cord cutting,” or canceling their cable service. Rushworth also indicated that the RCTV board is exploring options for outside sources of revenue. Town Manager Robert LeLacheur stated that “If this article does not pass, the town cannot legally pass funds through to RCTV.” LeLacheur expressed that he had no idea what would happen to the funds if that situation were to occur. FinCom member Marc Moll was concerned if RCTV went away saying, “the effect on town government could be huge.”
FinCom also discussed Article 8, which would delete the section of the bylaws that require Town Meeting approval for the disposal of surplus equipment valued under $10,000. The Select Board would have to adopt a policy for disposal of those surplus items. FinCom’s vote of approval is contingent on the Select Board adopting a policy at its March 26 meeting.
FinCom adjourned at 10:00 pm.