In the last issue of the Drummer, it was reported that Standard and Poor—one of the key municipal credit rating agencies—had reaffirmed our rating at AA+. That allowed the town to recently borrow at a favorable rate of interest on its bonds (1.55 percent net).
The Fiscal Year 22 budget proposals from the Board of Selectmen and Board of Education have been forwarded to the Board of Finance. On Monday, March 29, the finance board will review them, ask questions of the two boards and administrations and then finalize a unified budget package to present to the Budget Public Hearing on Monday, April 12 as designated in the town charter.
At its February meeting, the Board of Finance set guidelines for FY22 operating budgets that freeze the mill rate at the same level as it has been for the past two years. The action reflects the ongoing impact of the pandemic.
While mid-January is traditionally the time when the Three Boards—Selectmen, Education and Finance—come together to collectively review budget projections for the next fiscal year of FY22, pandemic restrictions preclude the 18 members of these boards from physically meeting. Instead, the two operating boards have forwarded to the Board of Finance the look-aheads at next year—the Plus One budget forecast—as prepared by their respective administrators.
In the last Drummer a fragment of the Democratic Town Committee took issue with my shot across the bow in the prior issue that indicated that the boards need to be focusing on flatter operating budgets and contract implications for FY22.
Life has been very different—if not surreal—for all of us through this initial pass of the pandemic. It locked us down in our homes to varying degrees, is impacting our family incomes just as erratically with some making more not working than when they were working, while others have seen their income reduced or totally dried up.
No matter who becomes our next governor or which party controls the legislature at the state capitol in Hartford, they will have their work cut out for them. While the bipartisan two-year state budget passed last year made some progress in helping to flatten the cost curve going forward, it is still the case that there are anticipated structural deficits of $2 billion and $2.6 billion respectively in the upcoming two fiscal years that will significantly test the mettle of state legislators and the executive branch.
In mid-February the Board of Finance set the expense limits it looks to see from the two operating boards—Selectmen and Education. Throughout this last November, December and January, their administrations had formulated the Plus One budget projections for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2019 which runs from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.