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Finance Committee – ’09 Budget Review Kickoff

The ’09 budget year started in earnest for the Finance Committee on 1/28. Why are these notes three weeks late? I’m either lazy, or busy, or both! Non-Arlington readers will need to remind themselves where the delete button is. I have high hopes that I’ll keep up non-Arlington content, so I hope you don’t unsubscribe. As usual, F

We started by welcoming our new Executive Secretary, Gloria Turkall and our new member, Erin Phelps. You might know Gloria from the Town Manager’s office. Most of the committee knows Erin from her previous stint on Fincomm, but she’s new to me!

Al Tosti made a few comments about the proposed budget. It uses the Governor’s numbers, which means it includes the casino money. The Governor’s inclusion of the gambling money in his budget is a serious power-play. The General Court has to approve casinos, come up with other funding sources, or explain to the towns why their budgets have to be cut. I don’t know how it will all play out. I think this is a pivotal moment for the governor. Can he flex his muscles and get what he wants? Will he lose the battle, but win the public relations war? Or will the General Court carry the day? I can’t call it from here. The budget includes bigger increases for the school side – the town manager gave more room for the schools to grow. This was a new development.

We then reviewed the Town Warrant to consider which articles we thought we should have a hearing on. (You can read the current warrant version on the town website). We will hear discussion on the obvious articles, like budgets. We also agreed to hear about holding the warrant open until 60 days before town meeting; plowing the sidewalks; abutter notification requirements; special legislation for funding pond maitenance; Transportation Advisory Committee request; OPEB (other post retirement benefit obligation, specifically health care for retirees), POBs (pension obligation bonds), and retirement funding; and revaluation. The rest of the warrant was determined to be not finance-related.

The Minuteman High budget was discussed.

The Capitol Committee’s review was set for 3/3. The school budget schedule was discussed. A Symmes update was heard.

The committee’s “vacation” will be 4/2-4/9.