At tonight’s budget meeting, we are hoping our Selectmen do not override another town vote as they did regarding the Market Street Article. Article 23 was passed at our April, 2014 Town Meeting, the people voting to advise the Board of Selectmen to present a two budget alternative for FY 2016. One proposed budget, which would exclude a 2½% increase to our tax base, and the second, which would include the customary 10+ year 2 ½% increase the Selectmen have automatically added each year. (Please keep in mind; this is not a zero based budget, even without the 2 ½% increase to our current taxable base, the town will still enjoy substantial additional revenues based on New Growth. The New Growth will come from the continuing build-out of Market Street and newly built/upgraded homes in town.) The Selectmen are meeting tonight, November 24, 7:00PM at the Senior Center. Per the agenda, it states “Discussion of Fiscal ’16 Budget Development.” We are hoping our vote on Article 23 will stand after tonight’s meeting. This meeting will not be televised.
After having unilaterally overturned the voted April, 2014 Town Meeting vote concerning Market Street, the Selectmen now have an opportunity to start the process of restoring mutual respect and trust between the Legislative [Town Meeting] and the Executive [Selectmen] branches of our government by voting to follow the vote of Town Meeting on Article 23. The proposed alternative budget analysis gives the Town Meeting the opportunity, on a comparative basis, to make more informed choices as to the services and expenses they wish to authorize for the next Fiscal Year. This is a step to explore alternatives and would still contain substantial new growth income from Market St., new homes, rebuilds, etc. A dual budget approach is not uncommon. Not only has it been done in Lynnfield, but also in other Towns such as Norwell, where our new Town Administrator is currently employed, which used dual budgets in its FY 2013 Warrant concerning a potential budget override. Since the Selectmen chose Mr. Boudreau because of his excellent management skills, we should feel comfortable that he can help implement a similar system here in Lynnfield.
The Selectmen should not encourage or permit the predictable outcry from the Town Administrator and all the various Town Departments that such a budget would result in the “sky is falling”. The historical laments that the Town will suffer immeasurably: no trash pickup, reduced policing, the education of our children will be seriously impaired, safety services will be less responsive, etc., have all been proven wrong when budget reviews/reductions have been done in the past. Lynnfield is still here and functioning.
Lets hope the Selectmen will respect the vote of the Taxpayers and rise above such negativism and they, the Selectmen themselves, will manage the situation by insisting that the Town Administrator and ALL Town Departments/Elected Committees positively and constructively follow the guidance of the Town Meeting vote thereby assisting Town Meeting in doing its job. At the same time they will be helping restore mutual respect between the Legislative and Executive Branches of our local government.