Budget balanced, voting on financial articles to begin this month
After learning the minimum amount the town is due to receive in local aid from the state, Town Administrator Mark Andrews told the Board of Selectmen Tuesday the proposed fiscal year 2012 budget is balanced.
He said voting on financial warrant articles can begin on May 23 when April Town Meeting reconvenes without being adjusted for the $919,000 discrepancy discovered in the town's books by independent auditors Powers & Sullivan in March.
All financial articles scheduled for April Town Meeting were held while auditors continued to review the books.
On Thursday Powers & Sullivan's James Powers said two-thirds of that money has been accounted for, leaving a remaining $219,000 discrepancy.
Andrews said Tuesday the $219,000 discrepancy falls within the budget for the town's "free cash," unrestricted funds left over from previous years' budgets. The discrepancy will be addressed at October Town Meeting, he said.
Tuesday Andrews said the voting can continue as originally planned now the that the state Senate has confirmed that the town will receive at least $14 million in aid.
Not knowing the amount the town would receive in aid "has been an issue from the start," Andrews said. With the knowledge of that amount, "the budget is locked in."
Andrews said the Senate voted last week to approve the amount of local aid presented in the Ways & Means Committee's budget.
The $14 million presented by the Ways & Means Committee is the least amount that Wareham will receive in aid from the state. The state Senate and House budgets call for more in local aid which could be made available to municipalities after a final vote on the state's budget, according to Andrews.
He said Powers & Sullivan will continue to assist the town in gaining financial stability by helping to implement a fiscal recovery plan for the Town Accountant's office.
Andrews will present the town's budget to the Financial Committee Wednesday night.
Town Meeting will address the town's financial business on May 23 at 7 p.m. in the Wareham High School auditorium.
In other town business:
Selectmen voted to accept the request for proposal, or RFP, presented by members of the Westfield RFP Review and Recommendation Committee Tuesday.
Formed in February, the committee was charged with making suggestions to the Selectmen for an RFP for the construction of affordable senior housing on the 77-acre West Wareham property. It had an RFP from 2009 to work from.
The proposal to construct the housing on the Westfield property was overwhelmingly approved by Town Meeting in October.
Westfield Committee Chairman Bill Heaney said the document was updated to include all recommendations offered by the Selectmen at a previous joint meeting between the groups.
Town Administrator Mark Andrews will now review the proposal with Town Counsel and then put the project out to bid.