Town's Warrant Committee tackles financial hurdles

The Warrant Committee welcomed four new members recently and held a socially-distant meet and greet on the Town Hall green. Shown from left, are members Rosemary Bouzane, Chair George Ashur, Secretary Erin Bradley, Ohene Asare, David Humphreys, Kathleen Cassis, and Scott Johnson. Members not shown include new members Emily Cavalier, and Brigid Connolly Gaughan. (Photo by Elaine Cushman Carroll)

Warrant Committee deliberations got off to a slow start on Sept. 21 in a review of the three articles that are slated to go before Town Meeting voters in a special meeting set for Dec. 7 since there were no dollar numbers available for review.

These three articles were approved by the Select Board for inclusion on the warrant that will need to go to the printers in about a month.

Town Administrator Mike Dennehy, speaking at the Select Board meeting on Sept. 16, said town officials are anticipating a “gut check” in its budget accounts in the future.

The articles would allow the town to make adjustments in the budget based on revenue adjustments and must be done prior to certifying the tax rate in early December.

They will also allow the town to put money back into its reserve accounts and provide funding for a potential bonding request from the Fire Station Building Committee.

As the uncertainty over COVID-19’s impact on state and local revenues continues, Select Board Chair Melinda Collins apologized to the Warrant Committee that the dollar amounts are not available as well as for the “cloudy” picture.

“We don’t yet have numbers for you,” she said, adding that the finance committees of the Select Board and School Committee are expecting to meet jointly soon.

Collins estimated the possible budget adjustment numbers might not be available until at least late October. That’s when some are estimating that the state legislature will set its budget for the remainder of the current fiscal year.

“We need to proceed very carefully,” said Collins, adding that Milton might want to restore some money that was withdrawn from stabilization funds.

She said there is an outside possibility that the special Town Meeting could be rescheduled until January or February for the Fire Station Building Committee (FSBC) article.

The FSBC is still crunching the numbers on a bonding request that would allow the town to go ahead with much-needed renovations of the town’s three fire stations.

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