May 16, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer
The Advisory Committee has joined the Selectmen and School Committee in endorsing a Fiscal 2021 Financial Management Plan they believe is in the best interests of the schools, town departments, and Hingham citizens in these uncertain times.
The plan addresses an expected COVID-19-related $3.3 million budget shortfall in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The plan avoids any cuts in the earlier-approved Fiscal 2021 proposed budget that will go before Town Meeting -- scheduled for June 22 as of now -- at least for now. The plan is posted on the town website.
The Advisory Committee discussed the proposed plan at two teleconference meetings this week -- on Tuesday and Thursday night, when the vote was taken.
"The Advisory Committee believes the plan is a prudent use of fund balance ['rainy day' funds] to respond to the current revenue disruption caused by the pandemic," said Advisory Committee Chariman Victor Baltera. "The plan allows the town to maintain services while also instituting spending controls that can be adjusted when the revenue picture becomes clearer later in the fiscal year. Under the plan, the town will closely match spending to changing revenue projections, thereby providing flexibility to respond to further changes in revenue (whether negative or positive)."
As of June 30, unassigned fund balance totaled $30.5 million, of which $7.6 million was in excess of the recommended (by financial experts) maximum of 20 percent of total annual town expenditures.
The expected loss in revenue potentially includes a decrease in property tax collections and meals tax and motor vehicle excise tax revenues, and lower than originally anticipated state aid. Seventy-five percent of the town's revenue comes from property taxes, and about 10 percent from state aid.