By Beth David
Acushnet’s town meeting on 5/23, was a largely uneventful gathering, with all articles on the annual and special town meeting warrants getting approved quickly and with no discussion.
The balancing of the budget, which Finance Committee chairperson Robert St. Jean said has a structural deficit at a Selectboard meeting recently, was accomplished with help from overlay funds and free cash.
In its letter to residents in the Town Meeting report, the Finance Committee said the town budget has “virtually nothing left to cut,” and the town faces an “up-hill struggle” in the coming years to continue providing the services residents receive now.
“Although we are using one time reserves, such as Free Cash, we are hopeful that this budget will allow Department Heads to maintain the current level of services that residents have come to expect without the need to utilize any of the Town’s Stabilization Fund,” wrote the FinCom.
The budget of $30.1 million includes $29.52 in operating expenses.
That $29.52 includes $10.584 million for department budgets and $15.187 million for schools, including high schools and vocational high schools.
Additional spending in articles from the Special Town Meeting came from Free Cash, and included $28,000 for a police cruiser; $4,000 from Community Preservation Committee funds to create a children’s play area at Pope Park; $7,500 from CPC funds to repair the bathroom ceilings at the Long Plain Museum; $8,000 from the Water Surplus Account for tank leak detection.
The town did not use any money from the Stabilization Fund and did not put any money into the Stabilization Fund.
All articles passed unanimously with little or no discussion.
In its letter, the FinCom also stated, “In general, the Town remains in good financial standing, and has continued to be able to deliver the taxpayers with high quality services despite limited revenue growth opportunities and State Aid assistance. Unfortunately, sustaining these services has put tremendous pressure on the tax rate; and continuing to afford these services in the futrure is the perpetual ‘black cloud’ that the Town faces.”
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