Cohasset Selectmen & others nervous about town’s surpluses

By some accounts, fees for services have risen 15% from last year.

Acting Town Manager Mike Milanoski told selectmen this year the town’s surplus exceeded $1.7 Million. “As part of the financial turnaround, we have one forward and finalized anticipated revenue for FY ‘14.”

Accordingly, various amounts will be put into the stabilization fund ($500.000), the OPEB fund ($250,000), the capital stabilization account ($500,000). Milanoski said he does want to begin road improvements noting that Cohasset has traditionally funded roads through Chapter 90 only. Another $100,000 will go towards “tween” projects, mainly maintenance for leaking roof, painting town hall. He wants to set that line item for good in the budget process.

Once again, Milanoski neglected to give selectmen any backup. Selectman Martha Gjesteby said she would like to have a detailed accounting of where the money came from. “It behooves you to give us this information.”

Milanoski said this was a preliminary report and he had just gotten the numbers together.

Selectman Karen Quigley said, “You must know from what budgets (this money) comes from.”

Koed told Quigley and Gjesteby the board would have the information before the week was out. Gjesteby said she received the information the day following the meeting.

Milanoski said new growth had been downgraded to $400,000 from $450,000. There had been an increase in local receipts, and this year there was $650,000 available from the state. He also noted that the school committee was going forward with an initiative to provide middle and high school students with laptops, adding that more money was needed for technology.

Peter Pescatore, chair of the advisory committee, said he had some concern about Milanoski’s putting $660,000 into an account for future laptop purchases for the middle and high school students.

Pescatore said the schools had recently increased fees for full day kindergarten and he noted that payments for the full day outstrip the expense of running the program. “There is a surplus.” He added that he know of no legal requirement to provide computers to students. “If this is a unfunded mandate from the state, that’s a lot of horsepower.”

Milanoski said he was proposing to put the$660,000 into a capital stabilization account. He told selectmen that none of the proposals mentioned required town meeting vote.

Pescatore said he tracked monthly trends for town and schools, and noted that both water and sewer came in with surpluses, also.

Quigley wondered if the town was over-budgeting.

Milanoski said a lot of money received was from state appropriations. “The town budget is set before the state sets its budget. Now we’re at a point where fees cover expenses.”

Koed said the board should have a discussion about the larger than normal surplus.

Pescatore said the revenue increases all appeared to be normal. “There was no sale of a mountain.”

“We just did a better job,” said Jack Keniley, chairman of capital budget.

Pescatore reminded selectmen that they had to set the town’s tax policy and issue financial guidelines by October 1.  “You are required to give the town manager budget guidelines.” Last year the chair and vice chair were designated to work with the town manager to set guidelines.

© Copyright 2013 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed