Gill aims for Town Meeting in late August, continues on month-to-month budget

Staff Writer
Published: 7/26/2020 6:04:52 PM

GILL — A date for Annual Town Meeting still has not been set, meaning that Gill hasn’t established a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1, and will be working on a provisional monthly budget at least through August.

Tentatively, a Town Meeting in late August or early September seems possible, Town Administrator Ray Purington said, but he added that a firm date has not been identified yet.

Normally, towns establish a budget before the new fiscal year begins. This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Massachusetts has passed emergency laws allowing towns to delay their Town Meetings, if necessary, and allowing them special funding options until they can establish an annual budget.

Gill’s Annual Town Meeting is normally in May. This year, Purington said, town officials’ time has been dominated by pandemic-related issues, and there wasn’t enough time to plan for Town Meeting or to prepare a budget.

In the meantime, Gill has been using a month-to-month budget. This is technically called a one-twelfth budget — although, in practice, and in Gill’s case, the actual monthly budget is not one-twelfth of an annual budget.

For example, in July, which includes several annual and quarterly payments, the budget came to $790,009, or 23 percent of the fiscal year 2020 budget. The August budget is $113,626, or 3 percent of last fiscal year’s budget.

“It’s a perfect example of why calling this a one-twelfth budget is very misleading,” Purington said.

Gill has not had problems financing its monthly budgets, Purington said, because it has already collected taxes for this half of the year, so cash flow is still normal.

Yet, in preparing to set a budget for fiscal year 2021, Purington said, the town is not optimistic.

Considering the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, and the uncertainty of how severely the state’s budget could be impacted, Purington said Gill is asking its town department heads to scale back their budget requests by as much as 10 percent from last fiscal year. And, as a small town, he said, the bulk of its expenses are in personnel — making it difficult to find areas that can be cut.

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-930-4231.




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