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Correspondent

SHIRLEY — Department heads turned out in numbers for a budget summit May 1, but only the School Committee joined the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee at the table Monday night, along with interim Superintendent of Schools Malcolm “Mac” Reid and business manager Evan Katz.

The discussion focused on the town- versus school-side of a $1.2 million deficit.

The schools presented a new bottom line, substantially less than the original, while the municipal reduction plan was still at the planning stage, with no firm figures.

The town isn’t cutting its budget the way the schools are, said Reid.

Selectmen Chairman Leonardo “Chip” Guercio presented a list of cost-cutting proposals, some of which were culled from an earlier list the board asked town administrator Kyle Keady to come up with. One item would reduce the employer/employee health-insurance split to 75/25 for all town employees, including teachers. Another would drop elected officials from town health-insurance rolls when their terms expire.

The list also includes a supplemental trash pickup proposal and calls for reviewing Police, Fire and Public Works department staffing levels. Other items include a freeze on capital purchases, selling surplus property, closing the Town Offices on Fridays to save energy, a proposed bi-weekly paycheck for town employees, centralized purchasing, reduced police patrols, and a stop on steps and raises for fiscal year 2009.

The goal of the tri-board meeting, said Guercio, was to produce a balanced budget to present to voters at the June 9 Annual Town Meeting. With the date set, the warrant must be signed in a couple of weeks, he said.

Still, there was some question about the benchmark school-side cuts are based on and whether the figure as presented achieves the reduction goal asked for by the Finance Committee.

It does, said Reid, but he questioned whether the municipal “exercise” meets the standard. Acknowledging they weren’t prepared to agree on a strategy — or a figure — yet, the three groups agreed to meet again later in the week.

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