Lindsay said it’s time to set priorities and share the sacrifice required to meet a new $5.4 million annual payment to the town’s employee retirement fund. The council has committed to making the payment through 2032, the year it hopes to have fully erased a longterm multimillion-dollar shortfall in the pension program.
The three-member council majority said it favors reviewing expenses with an eye toward cutting next fiscal year’s budget, but did not want to leave the meeting without an approved budget in hand for this fiscal year.
Bradford and department heads begin working each spring to assemble a budget proposal that comes to the council in July. The council may spend one or more meetings studying the plan and calling for revisions before approving the budget and tax rate at two public hearings in September.
Next time around, Bradford said, the council must get involved earlier in the process so it can understand how government budgeting and accounting works.
But first staff will do the groundwork. Bradford said Tuesday he will present to the council in November a written outline of how staff will accomplish the review and a timeline for completion.
“The goal is to provide an array of options to substantially reduce the cost of the town government,” he said. “Staff will complete a comprehensive review of operations and estimate the impact of each alternative . ... How do we achieve what we currently achieve, but with less resources?”
The review will take into account services to residents, and possible increases in fees for services and penalties, he said.
The last comprehensive budget review, in 2007, took four months to complete. Bradford said he hopes to get it done in three months this time and put it before the council for study in late January or February.
Council President Richard Kleid compared the review to zero-based budgeting, in which managers are asked to build a budget from the ground up. “It’s involved,” he said.
The last comprehensive budget review, in 2007, took four months to