Budget hearing Saturday

Precinct 2 Councillor James Letterie expects that the regionalization of municipal services will be one of the topics that will be addressed at the Town Council’s budget hearing Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Senior Center.

Regionalization, a plan in which Winthrop would share resources with nearby communities (Revere, Chelsea) has picked up steam after House Speaker Robert DeLeo held a press conference Monday to announce that the Metropolitan Area Planning Council has been given funds to study the issue and determine how it can help the town lower its costs for services.

The Town Charter requires that budget forums be held twice a year. All of the town’s department heads will be giving presentations about their budget and the potential challenges they see in Fiscal Year 2011.

“I don’t think there’s any big secret that next year is going to be another challenge financially for our town,” said Letterie. “And I think regionalization should be a topic of the future of this town. It might be needed in some aspects and for example, the library may be one.”

Letterie made it clear that he does not want to see the library closed or a lessening of resources available at the facility, an opinion shared at the ballot box during last year’s Proposition 2 ½ referendum.

“It was obvious by the override vote that the vast majority of citizens want the library to remain open,” said Letterie. We have an awesome library with a lot to offer. What I envision is combining resources (with Revere and Chelsea) and sharing the expenses and the wealth. It would be great to be able to combine all three libraries and see an economic benefit.”

One savings could be having one executive director in charge of overseeing all three libraries and their staffs.

Council President Jeffrey Turco will lead the first budget forum of his term.

“In the past, the councilors have not had much input at the hearing,” said Letterie. “It’s really been for the department heads to explain what’s been going on within their departments and their financial outlook. This is President Turco’s first meeting of this magnitude so I’m not sure how he envisions it going.”

The meeting time was scheduled for Saturday at 5 p.m. in order to avoid a conflict with the observance of the Jewish holiday, Passover, which begins with the first Seder Monday night. The Council usually holds its public forums on weeknights.

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