Finance Commission to Start Budget Process

By Sue Ellen Woodcock

The Town’s Finance Commission will beginning its annual work next week.

Finance Commission chairman Robert Wynne said the committee will meet with Town Manager James McKenna and Chief Financial Officer Michael Perez on January 31 at 6 p.m. in Town Hall. He expects to hear a six-month update on FY17, which ends June 30.

The FY17 budget for the Town was more than $56.7 million.

“There were some unknowns- the cost of utilities at the old middle school high school,” Wynne said.

For the FY18 fiscal year, which will begin July 1, the process is just beginning. One concern is the cost of employee benefits like health care.

“It’s an historically high item to pay,” Wynne said, adding that categories such as health, retirement, debt service, streets and regular bonding can account for 30 percent of the budget. “If health care costs remain stable that’s great, but if an higher increase then there could be an impact on available revenue.”

“State aid is also up in the air right now, it’s always an unknown,” Wynne said. For now it looks like the governor does not want to negatively impact cities and towns. In two to three weeks when the governor’s budget comes out Winthrop should have a clearer picture.

“When we get the House of Representatives budget we’ll work off that and project local aid,” Wynne said. “Until that is passed no one knows.”

Another area to watch is free cash, the difference between what is budgeted and what is spent. For FY17, the free cash was certified by the Department of Revenue at $2,897,377. In FY16 the free cash figure was 2,003,491 Wynne said there will be a budget update at the Jan. 31 meeting. The school budget is another major part of the town’s budget. The School Committee will submit its budget to the Town Manager after being developed by Superintendent of Schools John Macero. “We meet with Macero several times to see where we are headed,” Wynne said. “I haven’t heard anything negative.”

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