Council President Peter Gill has asked the town manager to compile a report on a $208,800 transfer request from the School Committee that would be taken from the town’s free cash fund.
Gill was quick to denounce the request when it was read at the Council meeting Tuesday night. “I’m very concerned about this request,” said Gill. “That $208,000 comes from out of free cash and free cash is not a bank. I believe it was known that this money was going to be needed – and it should have been worked through the budget.”
Gill said he’s “not real clear” what the School Committee’s budget strategy was that led to the transfer request being made.
“We had a clarification by a former School Committee person at the last meeting and it wasn’t in my mind real clear,” said Gill.
The council leader said the town will ultimately approve the transfer request [because] “we owe the money and we have to pay it.”
“But before we do, I have to have some questions answered that I, as a citizen, can understand and then carry to my role as a Town Council member and Town Council president,” said Gill. “I don’t want to be sitting here next year and have this come up again. Without placing blame anywhere, I just need to know what caused this situation to happen.”
Gill said the free cash and Council reserve funds are for “unanticipated expenses.” Gill believes that the School Committee’s transfer request is for an anticipated expense that should have placed in the School Department budget.
Gill made it clear that the budgetary planning [that has now resulted in the $208,800 transfer request] happened before current Superintendent of Schools John Macero took office and he is not responsible for the as-of-yet unresolved issue.