Interim Finance Director Stephen Cirillo developed a ten-page memo entitled “Strengthening Winthrop’s Financial Condition (FY2023 and beyond)” in the hope of correcting structural and service delivery deficits from the current budget and to strengthen the Town’s financial future.
Cirillo identified six goals the Town should prioritize, and recommended actions for each of these goals.
Goal: Eliminate the structural deficit in the General Fund Budget. Recommendations: substitute additional local receipts and reduced state assessments for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funds; substitute additional local receipts for the General Stabilization in FY23
Goal: Build future budgets on sustainable revenues. Recommendations: have inspectional services assess value of new developments; hire outside consultants to determine prices of fees, fines and permits; share the burden of setting the price of fees and fines with the Town Manager or CFO; review overhead charges.
Goal: Include budget initiatives to strengthen service delivery in key areas. Recommendations: increase school department budget base; increase Town Manager salary; expand building inspection to full-time; review pay and class designations for all municipal staff and update job descriptions; eliminate ferry service; reorganize IT department
Goal: Implement strategies for dealing with unfunded liabilities. Recommendations: identify the correct annual required contribution; appoint Winthrop Retirement Board the trustees of the Winthrop Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) Fund; charge enterprise funds for an annual OPEB ARC; begin funding General Fund OPEB liability; limit sick leave and vacation buy-back;
Goal: Implement policies to improve General and Enterprise Fund balances (liquidity). Recommendations: require the first $250K of annual free cash to remain unappropriated for emergencies; allocate 40 percent of annual certified free cash to the General Stabilization Fund and 30 to the Capital Stabilization Fund
Goal: Link Capital Planning between the General Fund (Bonds) and the Capital Stabilization Fund (pay/go). Recommendations: prepare an annual long-range capital plan; approve new safety building as a debt-excluded project only; utilize other sources of revenue to increase capital improvement funding
Cirillo said that by adopting the above recommendations, the Town can improve its financial situation in a short period of time. He was optimistic that strategic planning could shrink the gap between revenue and expenses.
In addition to the goals and recommendations, Cirillo also developed a long-range capital plan, as well as a long-range revenue and expenditure forecast to identify areas of weakness. The tools are meant to help administrators and policymakers to meet future budgetary constraints and can be utilized at the beginning of the annual budget process.
Cirillo sent the memo to Town Manager Terence Delehanty on Sept. 8, and also shared it with the Town Council on Sept. 21.