Town Administrator Tom Mayo is pleased to announce that the Town’s Sustainable Budget Task Force presented its findings earlier this week at a public discussion during the Select Board meeting.
The Task Force presented a 100-plus page report during the meeting on Tuesday, February 1st as a way to start a deeper community discussion on ways the Town can better plan for a sustainable financial future.
The final report can be viewed on the Task Force’s website, along with the slides presented at the meeting and the Financial Planning Model the Task Force used to test different budget scenarios.
The Task Force organized its 23 recommendations into two broad categories: those related to revenue and those related to expenditures and process improvements. Recommendations can be found on page 104 of the report.
“We hope that our residents view this report and other materials on the Task Force’s website, and use this information as a tool to better understand the financial situation of the Town,” said Select Board member Elizabeth Klein, who serves as the chair of the Task Force. “We are bringing together different perspectives, challenging the ways we have traditionally looked at the budgeting process, and thinking critically about how to do better in the future from the lens of what is best for our Town.”
The video of the Task Force’s presentation can be found on Harbor Media's YouTube page.
About the Sustainable Budget Task Force
Prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Town departments were seeing an increased demand for services that were difficult to address with available revenue. In response, the Town began developing a long-term financial management plan to identify new sources of revenue, assess service needs, and prioritize capital infrastructure investment. These plans were all done with the cumulative impact on taxpayers in mind.
The Town’s FY22 budget was balanced by using approximately $5 million in one-time funds, including COVID-related federal funds, that will not be available to the Town in the long term. Municipal and school leaders are working together to assess future needs, explore additional revenue opportunities, and identify ways to sustainably fund the budget going forward.
To this end, Town Administrator Mayo established the six-member Sustainable Budget Task Force to develop options to facilitate a sustainable five-year plan for the FY23 through FY27 budgets. The Task Force reported progress to the Town Administrator and Select Board on a monthly basis.
The Task Force, which represents an important municipal-school partnership within the Town, includes the following members:
- Elizabeth Klein (chair), Select Board member
- Nes Correnti, School Committee member
- John Ferris, Director of Business and Support Services, Hingham Public Schools
- Dr. Gary Maestas, Interim Superintendent, Hingham Public Schools
- Michelle Monsegur, Assistant Town Administrator for Finance
- Donna Smallwood, former Advisory Committee Chair
Additionally, three Advisory Committee liaisons attended Task Force meetings and observed the process.
“The work of the Sustainable Budget Task Force is vital to our families, our neighbors, and our municipal employees, and I was honored to put my experience as a CPA and perspective as a School Committee member to work for the benefit of our community,” Task Force member Nes Correnti said. “I appreciate Liz Klein‘s leadership throughout the process and the hard work of all the members. We all came to the table with different perspectives but took a collaborative approach that reinforced our common goal of doing our best for this community. As I often remind myself, ‘A budget is a moral document. What we fund is what we value,’ and I believe Hingham is a community worth investing in.”
Now that the report has been released, the Task Force hopes the public will engage in the budget process as it moves forward. Anyone with questions or comments about the report is encouraged to attend the Task Force’s virtual office hours on Wednesday, Feb. 9 at noon via Zoom and continue to attend public budget hearings and discussions ahead of the 2022 Annual Town Meeting.
Information on the Sustainable Budget Task Force Office Hours on Feb. 9:
The full report of the Hingham Sustainable Budget Task Force is now available online. (Photo courtesy Kerry Riordan/Blu Lemonade)