By John Anderson
At their budget kickoff meeting Wednesday night, the Finance Committee voted unanimously to recommend the acceptance of the $1 million donation towards the purchase of the Southold Road property that Auburn will be buying.
Member Kim Holstrom said when the committee voted in the fall to support the purchase it was because of the donation. She said that without the gift, this would be a financial strain for the town. The donation accounts for over one third of the $2.85 million purchase price.
Member James Bonofiglio asked if the anonymous donor had been asked about easing the open space restrictions. Town Manager Julie Jacobson said she has spoken with the donors, and they are committed to open space with passive recreation use.
Jacobson added that, since South Meadow is connected to the Pappas Recreation Complex, people could park there if they want to walk, run, snow shoe, or cross-country ski the new site.
In other business, CFO Ed Kazanovicz revealed some financial figures that were less than pleasing for FY2016 that begins next July. And, this fiscal year could take a $41,000 hit if the state cuts unrestricted local aid to help solve its mid-year deficit. His power point presentation will be available on auburnguide.com and it is worthy of review.
If there is one thing that is predictable as cities and towns start the budget process it is that nothing is easy to predict. Kazanovicz commented, “Just when you think the state is back on track…..” There will be a new administration at the state house, the Commonwealth has a mid-year deficit of nearly $400 million, and both the Patrick and Baker administrations have indicated they won’t be dipping into the rainy day fund to solve the problem.
Locally, Kazanovicz said department heads will have to identify their budget priorities, and they will do their best to preserve salaries and wages. The other big unknown is healthcare costs. Kazanovicz said, “This is always hard to anticipate.”
Over the next few months, much work will be done on the local budgets, and numbers may need to get reworked multiple times as more information is available from the state. In any case, a good team is on hand to get this done.