Archive 2008 - 2019

Where’s the money?

by William Dowd

After weeks of preparation, Town Meeting is upon is – October 27, 2014 7:30 PM, Holliston High School auditorium. I attended all of the Finance Committee meetings leading up to the publication of the Warrant (available on line at and in print at the Senior Center, the Library, the Police Station and Town Hall). I know the answer to most of the questions below. But based on the absence of residents at our meetings, I’m guessing many don’t. Even though taxpayers are going to be making sizable quarterly property tax payments to the Town within a week of Town Meeting, many won’t care what the answers are, and will just stay away. Nothing we can do about them. But if any of these questions peak your interest, you should seek out a member of the various elected boards and committees in the next few days or better yet, come to Town Meeting for answers and a chance to vote on well over $1,000,000 being put to a vote.

If you haven’t been to a Town Meeting, or haven’t been in recent years, please be aware that unless a voter asks a question or seeks to be heard, the meeting can appear to be on autopilot. An Article is read, a motion is made, it gets seconded and unless somebody raises his/her and says “Mr. Moderator”, we proceed to a vote. Often, the party sponsoring the Article doesn’t even explain what it’s for. For most Articles, there is an assumption that those present have either attended other meetings or done their research and know what’s about to voted.

Back in May, Town Meeting set aside $625,000 for Capital projects in this current fiscal year. But between items approved in May and recommended in this Warrant, actual proposed Capital spending is $987,464. Where will the difference - $362,464 – come from?

It is currently estimated that the State will certify $974,000 in “Free Cash”. Free Cash is the sum of unexpended budget from FY14 plus revenue or receipts greater than expected. Since it’s money that we didn’t know we were going to have, it could be used to reduce the amount that needs to be raised in property taxes this year. Where is that money actually going?

The Selectmen have an Article on the Warrant to spend an initial    $275,000 for engineering and construction plans for traffic lights in the downtown that are estimated to have a total cost of $1.4 to $1.7 million, inclusive of this $275,000. Where will any of that money come from?

The School Committee reached agreement with the teacher’s union for a new contract effective in the current fiscal year. Where’s the money to pay for it?

The Selectmen reached an initial union contract with the union representing the DPW employees. Where’s the money for that?

Town Meeting in October has a reputation for being not as consequential as the one in May. That’s why it typically draws even fewer than the paltry 120 to 140 who show up in May. (The minimum number of voters to hold a Town Meeting – the quorum – is 100) You can decide to leave the whole thing in the hands of others, or you can come out and have a say yourself. It’s all up to you.

Monday October 27, 2014   7:30 PM   Holliston High School Auditorium

Comments (1)

I can answer one of mr. Dowd's questions. The cost of year 1 of the teachers' contract was built into the school budget approved in Spring Town Meeting. No additional appropriation will. D required this fall.

Brad Jackson | 2014-10-22 11:40:47