I think we have a good working 2015 budget draft at this point (we worked out all the software bugs), so I'm sending out copies for you to review.
The Board will most likely cut some additional expenses tonight as we move toward our goal of a balanced budget. The Town had been using a different method in the past, budgeting for a deficit and then covering it when revenue exceeded projections. I've switched our format and have recommended policies toward a balanced budget method. In my experience, this type of budgeting is easier to track and understand as far as where the money goes in and out. Balanced budgeting will help us defray costs of future capital improvements in a more sustainable way. We will also discuss water and sewer rates for next year tonight with a goal of rewarding water conservation because in the end - our expenses to meet our water quality compliance demand will be less expensive if we reduce our water use and leakage. Our water and sewer fees revenue did not come in at expected level as you'll see in the water and sewer budget.
It was a good year for sales tax however, and as you know - that revenue is always volatile. The staff, especially Ben and Greg have worked hard on cutting expenses and we've consolidated administrative expenses and also save quite a bit of money. I'm recommending a staff raise of 2.5% across the board and we are seeing our insurance go up across the board as well as utility costs.
The board will meet in a workshop tonight to discuss some additional staff recommendations and let us know where they want to make final adjustments.
Our formal draft budget hearing is December 3, 2014 and I'll be working on the budget narrative. A copy of the draft budget resulting from tonight's workshop changes with a draft narrative will be available in Town Hall office sometime Monday and I'll also send it out via email and post it on the website.
This next year, I would like to focus on increasing revenue so we can continue to enjoy the services we've come to expect. I am working on bringing experts in to talk to us about revenue flow and where we can look at ways to strengthen our financial position on that side of the budget.
Please don't hesitate to contact me (via email, I'll be gone tomorrow until after Thanksgiving) or any of the Board members with your ideas.