From Lynn Olson:
For those of you who were unable to attend town meeting, I would like to try to summarize some of the actions of the citizens during the 5 ½ hours. Those people who assumed that town meeting would no longer be a valid exercise due to the final budget approval coming at the June election must have been quite surprised. The $200,000 plan to revitalize downtown using unrestricted fund balance (UFB) was defeated soundly, as was the plan to take the surplus balance of the Penn Cable account of $200,000 to offset the budget. The transfer of $116,000 from UFB to public safety capital reserves was approved.
The warrant article to approved the lump sum of expenditures was also defeated so articles 8 through 15 were discussed to look at groupings of expenditures with the following results:
Administrative Services reductions of 102,737 were made to proposed a budget of 625,578.64
Municipal Finance reductions of 5,000 were made 1,455,723.44
Leisure and Information Services unchanged 289,921.92
Public Safety unchanged 610,587.54
Public Works unchanged 1,672,832.07
council, boards, committees unchanged 53,800
Stimson Hall unchanged 7,940
community service agencies unchanged 45,912.80
The $3.2M bond request was approved overwhelmingly, with a round of applause for the excellent work of the public works and recycling departments.
The article to permanently raise the limit of the tax level cap was amended to limit the increase to $2.2M, a reduction of over $540,000.
With the loss of the Penn Cable revenues to offset the tax rate and the cuts that were identified and approved with the articles, my updated spreadsheet says that the town may still have to find around $107,875 in cuts to come in under the $2.2 million dollar tax levy cap. Plus they need to determine where the cuts that were approved within the departmental articles will be made.
So there is still quite a bit of budget work to be done by the council either before or after the budget ballot is prepared for vote on June 12th. If you are interested in certain departments within the town, then you may want to stay apprised of the discussion and support the town staff as they deliberate these decisions.
Thanks to everyone who attended town meeting and made their wishes known. You did a good job!
Julie Sheets said:
I just wanted to extend a very public “thank you” to Lynn Olson for all of the hard work she did both at the Town Meeting as well as the many, many hours of preliminary work she did on the budget. Lynn demonstrated that she has both a deep understanding of municipal finances — well beyond the abilities of any sitting councilor — as well as a true commitment to the betterment of this town. Lynn did the citizens of Gray great service and even won a public “thank you” from none other than Janet Neal.
Thank you Lynn — we truly couldn’t have done it without you!