Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

Finance Committee, October 17, 2023

Reconsideration of Town Meeting Article 2

The Finance Committee discussed reconsidering Town Meeting Article 2, which had appropriated $400,000 for the schools in FY24. However, the ballot language approved by the Select Board specified the override would not take effect until FY25. Therefore, the $400,000 appropriation in Article 2 was null and void.

The Finance Committee voted unanimously to reconsider Article 2 and take no action, meaning the $400,000 appropriation was removed. The schools’ FY24 budget will not increase by $400,000. The funding will be considered again in the future, likely at the Spring Town Meeting.

Financial Projections and Override Impact

The Town Manager explained that even with the override delayed to FY25, the financial projections are largely unchanged. Without the override, there is projected to be a small deficit in FY26 that will likely close on its own. With the override, the budget remains balanced through FY26. In FY27 there is projected to be a $15 million deficit.

The schools’ strategic plan funding remains intact, except for the $400,000 not appropriated this fiscal year. The override includes $3.1 million in additional school funding for FY25, $1.7 million for FY26, $600,000 for FY27, and $300,000 for FY28. If the override does not pass, the school increases would not happen.

The Town Manager reported that free cash reserves came in much higher than expected at over $18 million, due to higher interest income, staff vacancies, and other factors. He said this will help the financial position through FY26.

Discussion and Next Steps

There were some questions about the process for funding the schools, including whether the Select Board formally approves the school budget increases. The Town Manager explained the Select Board makes commitments about how override funds will be allocated, but appropriations still have to go through the normal Town Meeting approval process.

The Finance Committee decided additional discussion about financial projections and plans regarding the override would take place at a future meeting. There was a possibility of meeting again soon if contract negotiations conclude, but otherwise the committee will not meet again until November.



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