November 8, 2021 By Carol Britton Meyer
The Sustainable Budget Task Force is charged with developing a five-year "sustainable forecast" that will allow the town to provide services that meet residents’ expectations as well as ongoing expenditure obligations that are in line with projected revenue.
Even before the pandemic, Hingham town departments were experiencing an increased demand for services that was 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 – while being mindful of the cumulative impact on taxpayers.
As stated in the Select Board’s Report in the 2021 Town Meeting Warrant, the town currently lacks the means to fully fund the budget beyond Fiscal 2022. The FY22 budget was balanced by using approximately $5 million in one-time funds, including COVID-related federal money 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 (including consideration of a Proposition 2-½ operational override -- which becomes a permanent part of the tax base), and identify ways to sustainably fund the budget going forward.
Accordingly, Town Administrator Tom Mayo established a six-member Sustainable Budget Task Force to develop options to facilitate a sustainable five-year Financial Forecast for FY23 through FY27. “Sustainable” means a financial forecast that uses realistic assumptions for revenue and expenditure growth that would allow the town to provide services that meet residents’ expectations while at the same time meeting ongoing expenditure obligations through regularly occurring revenues.
The task force is comprised of Assistant Town Administrator for Finance Michelle Monsegur, Select Board member Liz Klein, Interim Supt. of schools Gary Maestas, School Committee member Nes Correnti, Hingham Public Schools Director of Business and Support Services John Ferris, and former Advisory Committee Chair Donna Smallwood.
A progress report will be presented to Mayo and the Select Board on a monthly basis and aims to present its findings by mid-January 2022, when budget discussions for the next fiscal year will be underway.
The Task Force welcomes questions, comments, and concerns about its work. Feedback may be submitted to: https://www.hingham-ma.gov/916/Sustainable-Budget-Task-Force