A budget, yes, but more work is needed in Oak Bluffs

To the Editor:

We have sent this letter to the Oak Bluffs selectmen and the town administrator.

The Oak Bluffs finance and advisory committee has developed a budget for FY 2012 that is within the revenue projections provided by the town administrator. If adopted at town meeting and administered responsibly, it is expected to provide a small surplus which will help reduce the town’s negative free cash accumulated over the last several years. This budget does not address a growing backlog of capital costs, for example building maintenance, road paving, or vehicle replacements.

This budget requires belt-tightening for a number of town departments. All departments were consulted in the building of the budget. With the exception of the highway department and the Oak Bluff’s School proffers, the reductions required in this budget are imposed on the department bottom lines, not from specific line items. Department heads are expected to make them work and identify specific cuts from the departmental budget submissions. While I am sure there will be appeals, I encourage you to hold the line and to resist short-term solutions that will harm the town in the longer term.

More work is required to place town finances on solid footing. Post-retirement employee benefits are still funded from operating revenues. Capital expenses have been deferred or ignored for several years. Mitigation of both issues will require disciplined strategic planning and more responsible management in coming years. Additionally, programmatic costs should be made more transparent. Fuel and utility charges, building maintenance, communications, and personnel benefits are but a few examples that should be attached more directly to programs.

We look forward to working with you to inform the voters and ultimately to fund Oak Bluffs for FY2012.

Bill McGrath

For the Oak Bluffs Finance and Advisory Committee

Oak Bluffs