Government Spotlight Suggestion Box

Suggestion box: Town budget

At a recent Charter Commission meeting, Commissioner Steve Libby made a presentation about the way that budgets have typically been developed in New Gloucester.

The town manager works with department heads to develop a proposed budget, and the (appointed) budget committee and the select board are involved in developing a budget in a parallel fashion. There is a joint meeting, followed by a public hearing held by the budget committee. Prior to town meeting, the select board affirms the budget figures. If the board and budget committee recommend different amounts, both are included in the article. Voters can reduce the amount for an article, but can’t increase it.

Some think the process works just fine. Others would like to changes to aspects of the process: a more transparent format, a streamlined process for budget development, capital improvement and undesignated funds accounts. Some would like to be able to increase the amount for an article at town meeting, which is allowed by state statute. If an article fails (such as the budget for the library), should there be a provision for the prior year’s budget to remain in place? Some towns have budget committees that are elected all or in part. And as we’ve heard, some favor voting on the budget by ballot at the polls rather than at town meeting so that the result is more representative of the entire community.

What do you think?

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