March 17, 2009

Ward eyes delay in budget adoption date

Hogtied by budget due dates that force city leaders to produce an annual spending plan before state aid figures are available, officials are looking into the possibility of delaying final passage of Bristol’s own budget to allow more time to find out what to expect from lawmakers.

“We hope that we’ll have more meaningful information” by waiting to approve the city budget, Mayor Art Ward said Tuesday.

With so much depending on how much money the state coughs up – particularly its education cost sharing grant that funds a large amount of city school spending – officials say they don’t want to make assumptions about the figures because a wrong choice has the potential to bust Bristol’s own budget.

Several city councilors said the idea is worth exploring. It will come up for initial discussion at next week’s Ordinance Committee meeting.

The city’s ordinances require that a joint session of the City Council and Board of Finance approve a yearly spending plan on the third Monday of May, several weeks before the scheduled end of the General Assembly’s session in odd years.

Ward said he’s working with the assessor, tax collector, city attorney and others to figure out just how long the city can wait to adopt its budget.

Some time is needed before July to figure out tax bills, print them and otherwise prepare for the new fiscal year that starts July 1.

State Rep. Bill Hamzy, a Plymouth Republican whose 78th District includes a portion of Bristol, said recently he doubts the legislative session this year will end on time anyway. It might go all summer, he said.

But Ward said that the budget picture gets clearer with every passing day so more time helps even if the city has to adopt its municipal spending plan before the state’s final aid figures are available.

The mayor said he views the ordinance change that he’s looking for as a one-time emergency measure related to the dire fiscal conditions today.

He said the regular budget adoption day will remain in place for the future.

But the ordinance panel might create a change that would make it possible for future administrations at City Hall to delay budget passage as well since the problem may crop again as soon as next year, when state deficit projections are even worse than this year.

Next ordinance meeting

The next Ordinance Committee session is slated for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25 at City Hall. There is a public comment portion at the beginning of the meeting.


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Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's the reasonable thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Please correct me if I am wrong, but I thought budget adoption was dictated by the Charter, not a simple ordinance.

If an ordinance, Bill's point is valid, this legislative session will go way beyond June 30th.

Suck it up. The BOF should approve a budget based on what is presented to them from Department heads, not what they "think" they will receive from the state.

Steve Collins said...

The budget includes revenue projections that are crucial for setting a mill rate, which is part of the budget adoption.
Look at it this way: the budget is spending on the one hand and revenue on the other. Basically, whatever the city doesn't get from the state, it has to raise in taxes and fees. So the state number is critical.
But Bristol's had to guess before and it probably will again.

Anonymous said...

Word is that Zoppo suggested this to Ward.

Anonymous said...

No she didn't, enough of Zoppo, she is history.

Anonymous said...

Word is? Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

12:49

Ask Art to give us a break!

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhh....Another feel good thing from Ward!!

Anonymous said...

That's exactly what he's trying to do 1:09.

Anonymous said...

12:49

Well someone had to give him the idea!

Anonymous said...

I get it now.

Ward's approach is to see what we get as revenue and SPEND IT ALL, rather than develop a reasonable budget that does wha the city NEEDS!

I guess that is what makes him a good politician.

Anonymous said...

2:23

You mean he is not running for reelection?

Puddin' said...

good thing that no one expects any positive republican remarks on this site - guess if you can't get the people to publicly believe your republican jibberish, you should feel gratified that Steve has given you this "clown academy" to strut your ignorance.

Anonymous said...

3:04 ~ You obviously don't get it...probably never will.

Anonymous said...

3:04

Maybe it is you that doesn't get it.

The country, the state, the city are all in trouble and Ward is looking for handouts.

Why doesn't he do something proactive?

hmm said...

7:19 - he is being proactive, I heard that he is dedicating a part of his day to praying for your sorry, dead butt.

Anonymous said...

But praying isn't doing anything to bettering the city, to cutting costs, reducing expenses.

Face it, Ward is in over his head!

Bring back Zoppo!

What a chump said...

Betcha if 7:19's fearless leader came up with the same idea, he'd be on the rooftop singing the praises of it's brilliance...

Guess "proactive" is in the eye of the beholder.

Anonymous said...

12:55

Thank God for Zoppo!

Anonymous said...

tim tell ward its time to start making cuts like in jobs. OR ZOPPO WILL BE BACK AND WILL WIN.

Anonymous said...

Zoppo would be better than Johnson!

Anonymous said...

Zippo is not what we need. Bristol needs people who are not in anyone's pocket and have some smarts. As far as this issue goes, Ward is doing the right thing.

Anonymous said...

If Ward had his way he would delay the budget until after the election.

Halloween already said...

Ooooooo, 6:49 is making scary threats! I'm all tingly and stuff... :-O

Anonymous said...

Why not wait until September, when money has come in and money has been spent?
Certainly would result in a much more accurate budget.
But then, November would be even better.