It was very clear last Thursday night that Finance Commission was not happy with the recommended $50 million town budget presented to them and the Town Council.
“I have been doing this since 1992, and I have never been so upset with the presentation of the budget,” said FinCom member Karin Chavis.
This is the first time in 10 years that the budget was not presented by former Town Manager James McKenna, who stepped down from his post last year to work as a consultant to the town. The FY19 budget (which goes into effect July 1) was presented to the Town Council last week by interim Town Manager/Police Chief Terry Delehanty, although it did not include the School Department budget, fire department or salary line items.
Since the first copy had been given to the Town Council a revised budget was also submitted, but it still lacks the school budget, as well as a budget from the fire department, teacher salary line items and a “half-assed,” Letterie said, alphabetical town salary list.
“There’s a number of copies of the budget and none of them are correct,” said FinCom member Barbara Flavin. Adding to the mess is a lack of dates and page numbers in the budget.
A six-page revision letter with corrections was submitted to the Finance Commission.
“And there were a lot,” Chavis said.
““Why would we believe anything that is written in this budget. There’s nothing that tells us anything is factual. We’re not getting the information we’re used to, it’s frustrating,” Letterie said. “We have pretty charts and graphs. The fact that we have to look for this information is a joke.”
The council is expected to vote on the FY19 budget at its first meeting in June.
“Right now we’re in the discussion and evaluation phase,” said Jan Twombly, who chaired the meeting for the night.
How did this budget mess happen? Twombly said there are a number of factors including having an interim town manager, there are also far more corrections than have been in the past.
“Generally the Town Council has been presented with an accurate town budget with only one or two things that have to be updated,” Twombly said. “There are more things changing as we go through the process.”
“We can’t make any recommendations or decisions until we know what the real numbers are,” Twombly said.