By John Anderson
On Wednesday evening, the Finance Committee, School Committee and Board of Selectmen met in West Auburn to discuss some important financial issues. Also in attendance were Town Manager Julie Jacobson, CFO Ed Kazanovicz, School Superintendent Maryellen Brunelle and District Business Manager Howard Barber.
Finance Chair Kevin Hussey led the discussions, and the first topic was the Elementary Schools Re-Use. Jacobson said the 7 or 9 member committee was close to being formed. A meeting should be held by early January. Brunelle said $63,000 is in the FY16 budget to keep the Julia Bancroft and Mary D. Stone buildings heated and maintained. If all goes as planned for the new middle school and 10 Swanson Rd, both buildings will be vacated by next fall.
The Bay Path renovation funding continues to be problematic for the town since it has been grouped with the annual assessment for vocational students, which will increase by 11 students next fall. Auburn’s portion of the work is about $3 million, but it fluctuates based on attendance.
Future land acquisitions by the town were discussed with an eye on establishing a trust. Selectman Ken Holstrom spoke in favor, pointing out, “There’s little land left.” After the recent experiences with the Southold Rd. 61A property, this subject is worthy of some attention. Jacobson has already met with Senator Michael Moore to discuss improvements to the Chapter 61 process.
Hussey pointed out that the potential impact of State mid-year budget cuts could be around $41,000. Since Auburn has already set the tax rate, any reduction from the State would have to be absorbed from existing budgets. Superintendent Brunelle has already contacted legislators Moore and Frost about keeping those cuts away from school funds.
Although little time was left for a thorough discussion about the FY16 budget process, that will be the topic of another joint meeting next Wednesday at Town Hall. FinCom member Kim Holstrom asked that the budget process be rethought. She wants department heads to submit budgets of what they need rather than trying to target specific percentage increases. This will certainly merit further discussion.
There are many more meetings ahead as our elected and appointed leaders take on FY16. Good luck!