SHIRLEY — The Finance Committee will be accepting capital plan requests from town departments for fiscal year 2009 in the coming weeks to present to the town for approval at the June Annual Town Meeting.
The deadline for requests is Jan. 11, but bylaws state that no requests will be considered after Jan. 31, members said at the committee’s December meeting.
The committee voted to deliver a memorandum explaining the capital plan request procedure and schedule to all departments following the meeting.
Once the requests are received, the committee will contact departments individually to schedule a meeting discuss how their requests impact the overall plan.
However, the committee plans to call on Department of Pubic Works Director Joseph Lynch prior to his request.
Last year Lynch completed an affordability analysis and asked for roughly $200,000, said member Mike Smith. This year, he said the committee will discuss possibilities with Lynch to devise a reasonable approach to meeting the department’s needs and supporting the town’s finances.
“If we were to tell him he could have more like $50,000, what would he do?” asked member Cheryl Hayden.
Perhaps Lynch can bring a preliminary plan to the committee’s Jan. 7 meeting, said Chairman Frank Kolarik, so committee members can offer guidance regarding his requests.
The department has a large number of recurring capital plan requests due to the large amount of equipment it maintains, said Smith.
For instance, according to Lynch’s analysis, a lawn tractor should ideally be replaced every five years, said Smith. But budgeting for repairs may be more economical and could extend the life of the equipment, he said.
Lynch admitted last year that his requests were expensive, said Hayden. She said Lynch understood that adjustments would be necessary.
His request was submitted to support the optimal plan for the department, she said.
“He did it the right way,” said Hayden, but as the budget gets leaner, the committee is looking for ways to save money.
Overall, the committee expects more requests this year according to the plan, under which capital expenses are projected for the next five budget years, said Kolarik.
The committee will also request departmental budgets by mid-January, according to discussions.
Last year, the committee requested that departments present three budgets — level-funded, level-services and with a 5 percent increase.
This year, the committee is considering asking for three budgets again. But instead of a 5 percent increase, it may ask for departments to project a 5 percent decrease.
Revenues aren’t increasing at the same rate as expenses, said Kolarik, who is projecting a deficit in the coming years.
“We’re eventually in the hole,” he said. “Maybe this is the year we get the message across.”