Town Administrator William Keegan presented a balanced budget proposal for fiscal 2012 to the Board of Selectmen Thursday night and proposed changes to the town clerk’s office, the Endicott Estate, and the Parks and Recreation Department.
Keegan submitted a total budget of $91.38 million, with operating expenditures of $80.99 million. The proposal will go through many stages of debate in Finance Committee meetings before the budget is brought before Town Meeting in May.
“Changes will unfold as we receive further input, and it’s a constant process as we receive new information daily,” said Keegan. “The budget doesn’t officially close until the fall of 2011.”
The budget is based on Governor Deval Patrick’s projected budget for state aid to towns. Keegan said that the final total for state aid will be given in June, once the budget is passed by the House and Senate.
Dedham will receive a projected $6.5 million in state aid, which is almost $200,000 less than for fiscal 2011.
“We’ve been building our budget on reduced aid from the state for the past four years,” said Keegan.
In fiscal 2008, Dedham received $8.3 million from the state.
Keegan said that five years ago 10 percent of the town’s revenues were from state aid; for fiscal 2012, it's 7 percent. In his proposed budget, 81 percent of revenues are from property taxes.
In other matters, Keegan proposed changes to staff positions in the town clerk’s office, in view of the fact that several employees will be retiring. “Our intent is to redefine positions to make them more relative to operations today, which is more technology oriented,” he said.
Keegan also proposed changing how the Endicott Estate is funded and managed. He proposes only funding it for the first six months of fiscal 2012 and is looking to privatize the management structure. Keegan said that the estate operates at a $400,000 loss to the town each year.
He has also submitted an article that proposes to move four maintenance workers from the Parks and Recreation Department to the Department of Public Works. He said that this will streamline operations, making both departments more efficient.
The selectmen appeared to be pleased with Keegan’s budget.
“It’s the third difficult year in a row for town finances, and so far there’s been no shocking cuts that we’ve had to go through,” said Selectman Mike Butler. “We’ve incrementally made cuts in expenses, and we haven’t had to fall off a cliff to bring it back to balance.”
Selectman Paul Reynolds agreed that Dedham has remained strong throughout the economic downfall.
“We have a relatively good story to tell and it's exciting with how many services we are delivering, and we’re maintaining fiscal responsibility,” said Reynolds.
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