By Cary Shuman
The Winthrop Town Council approved the revised budget submitted by the town manager and recommended by the Finance Commission, a vote that will erase a deficit of $772,260 in the Fiscal Year 2010 Town Budget.
The actual vote was for a cut of $635,000 in the budget. That reduced figure (versus the original $772,260 deficit) was the product of the increased revenue ($67,000) that the town will realize from the local option meals and hotel tax and a decrease in the projected 2009 deficits ($70,610). The Council voted last week to increase the meals tax in the town from 6.25 to 7.0 percent beginning October 1.
Town Finance Commission Chairman Robert Wynne said there will be no loss in personnel in town departments though police, fire, and DPW positions will remain unfilled in the revised budget and hiring for those positions will be delayed.
“The [town] services are not going to be impacted by this most recent reduction,” said Wynne. “Whatever appropriations and budgets that were passed in mid-June – the services should continue, the staffing will remain the same, but some new hires in the police and fire departments are going to be deferred.”
Wynne also outlined a reallocation of heating expenses to the respective town departments of $296,000. Of course, a lot of the heating expenses for the fall and winter months will depend on the weather.
“The management of that [heating] expense will now fall within each department that is affected, as opposed to the central [town] government, so department heads will have to manage that, because they won’t be getting an additional appropriation,” he said. “They’ll have to manage within the expense budget that was appropriated back in June.”
Wynne said the cuts being made in Winthrop are in reaction to the state granting less local aid for cities and towns than originally indicated.
“This is not in anticipation of cuts – these cuts are real,” said Finance Commission member Jan Twombly. “There may be additional cuts in the fall but the $772,000 of state aid that we have lost in this current fiscal year is real, in addition to what we lost last year, which was $1.8 million. So in total, it a reduction of $2.6 million in state aid that we’re absorbing inside of two fiscal years.”
Wynne told the Town Council that there could be further cuts in the budget down the road.
“A word of caution is that we’re already getting indications from the state that their revenue collection is off,” said Wynne.