East Longmeadow www.TheReminder.com
Appropriations Committee charged with plugging budget gap By Chris Maza email@example.com
EAST LONGMEADOW – The Appropriations Committee has less than two months to figure out how to close a $536,450 budget gap prior to the Annual Town Meeting on May 21.
Appropriations Committee Chair Russ Denver explained at an April 2 public forum to discuss the preliminary fiscal year 2013 (FY13) budget that the town figures to bring in $51.3 million in funding sources in FY13, while the projected uses are estimated to be in the $51.8 million range. Denver said a major challenge in closing the budget gap was the Appropriations Committee’s decision to cut the use of free cash in half. “For the past several years we
have balanced the town of East Longmeadow’s budget by using approximately $1 million of free cash,” he said. “It is a goal of the Appropriations Committee to reduce that amount by $500,000.”
He added that approximately $850,000 in costs related to the Oct. 29, 2011 snowstorm and a $405,000 increase in the Contributory Retirement Assessment also present added burdens to the town in FY13. He also stressed a great deal
of uncertainty about the state’s contribution in the upcoming fiscal year, however, he pointed out that state aid makes up only approximately 5 percent of the town budget.
“I think the biggest unknown
for Appropriations and really, for the town, is we do not know what we are going to receive for state aid this year,” he said. “Our budget that we have currently before us level funds state aid. If we are successful in receiving additional state aid, it could relieve some of the pressure we have on the budget.”
The town is also anticipated to use some funding to address accessibility and space limitations at town hall.
“This is something the
committee is committed to addressing this year,” Denver said. The news isn’t all bleak,
however, he said. Due to retiree and employee
health benefit changes, the town is projected to save $281,000 in FY13. Energy conservation measures implemented by the Department of Public Works, as well as the use of the MINUS financial accounting system have improved efficiency and bond refinancing could result in more than $400,000 in savings over the next decade. Denver also lauded Fire Chief Richard Brady for securing a $320,000 grant to offset some of the cost of the upgrade to the town- wide radio system.
Income from property taxes is anticipated to increase by more than $1 million in FY13 from $32.6 million to $33.8 million The School Department and
Police Department budgets make up the two largest portions of the budget. The schools’ proposed level-service budget is anticipated
Bluebird Estates makes donation to Outward Bound for Veterans
EAST LONGMEADOW – Bluebird Estates independent senior living community in East Longmeadow recently made a $2,567 donation to the Outward Bound for Veterans program as part of parent company Holiday Retirement’s national fund-raising effort.
Holiday Retirement and its
278 U.S. independent senior living communities donated a total of $1.2 million through a three- month fund-raising campaign. Outward Bound for Veterans
is a non-profit program that helps returning service members and recent veterans readjust to life at home by providing challenging wilderness trips, which encourage healing and help rebuild confidence. Trip destinations include some of the country’s most stunning locations. Holiday Retirement’s donation
will fund full trips – including flight, food, lodging, supplies and instructors – for 600 military veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Among the participants is William Reis, a 25-year-old army machine gunner who spent one year in Baghdad. Like many veterans, Reis struggled to find peace following his tour of duty. “I got really depressed after
my tour and came back with a different view on life,” Reis said. “I felt quite numb and didn’t know how to relate. What made me human was gone.” Reis’ Outward Bound
experience included eight days of dog sledding in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. He called it “an experience I’ll never forget.” “For an unemployed veteran to come home and feel depressed ... to have a group that will send you dog sledding and give you a
break from the stress and the chaos with guys who’ve gone through similar struggles ... it was the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” Reis said. “It’s hard to explain in words what this did for me and some of my friends.” Holiday Retirement communities are home to approximately 12,000 veterans and spouses. “Veterans are such a major
part of our communities, and this was an excellent opportunity for us to give back to a newer generation of veterans in a very meaningful way,” Mark Prince, Holiday Retirement’s executive sponsor of the Outward Bound campaign, said. “Providing this opportunity is the least we could for them.” To learn more about the
Outward Bound program, visit www.outwardbound.org
RE-ELECT PAUL FEDERICI Your Selectman in East Longmeadow
I have been proud to serve East Longmeadow for the last three years as your Selectman and I look forward to continuing to make East Longmeadow a great place to live, work and raise a family.
My 33 years of accounting experience and business background has served me well in helping the town weather the current economic uncertainty and help East Longmeadow continue to grow and thrive.
I would appreciate your vote on April 10 - Birchland Park School. Thank You.
Paid for by the Committee to elect Paul Federici Page 12 APRIL 9-15, 2012 For news & advertising call 413-525-6661
to take up $26.1 million of the budget, a 2.8 percent increase from FY12.
However, a separate “needs budget” presented by Superintendent Gordon Smith represents a 4.4 percent jump with $382,583 in additional requests, including academic coaches, two full-time reading teachers, a part- time guidance secretary at Birchland Park Middle School and the creation of a second full-time assistant principal position as well as a full-time athletic director position.
The Police Department budget features a modest 1.7 percent increase from $2.5 million to $2.6 million.
While several other
departmental budgets are expected to decrease, the Board of Selectmen’s budget is projected to rise from $249,746 to $301,335 in FY13.
Approximately $31,600 of that increase is transferred from the Treasurer/Town Clerk’s budget as the town now has a benefits
administrator in Corinne Tranghese, who was responsible for the retiree and town employee benefit changes that resulted in savings.
“The Appropriations Committee endorsed a move by the Board of Selectmen to initiate a new position called a benefits administrator,” Denver said. “That individual moved all of the retirees onto Medicare-eligible plans and worked very closely in the plan design changes for town employees.”
Among the major changes in
town-wide budgets was a $150,000 increase in the reserve fund for FY13.
“We normally have it funded at about $300,000. Those are for unexpected expenses throughout the year,” Denver said. “We will finish the end of this fiscal year with no money in the reserve fund at all. We put in an additional $150,000 as a way to possibly have sufficient funding should there be new union contracts during the next fiscal year.”
EASTER PARTY Members of the East Longmeadow Brownie Troop 20103 Girl Scouts helped children design Easter cards at the 2012 East Longmeadow Wingate Children’s Easter Party on March 31.Th
e East Longmeadow Rotary Club took photos of the children with the Easter Bunny to put into the cards.
Reminder Publications submitted photo
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