As we settle into the new year, we begin work in earnest on the 2018-2019 town budget. This lengthy process actually begins in December, when each department head presents their budget requests to the Chief Administrative Officer. These budget requests are developed using zero-based budget principles, meaning that every line item starts from zero and is based on current and projected need. After hearing the requests of each department head, the CAO makes revisions and crafts a budget proposal, department by department, which is presented to the Board of Selectmen over a series of three meetings in February. The CAO’s budget then is debated, revised, and voted upon by the Board of Selectmen in late February. In March, the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Education present their respective budgets to the Board of Finance for their consideration, and thereafter the Board of Finance holds a public hearing on the budgets. In early April, the Board of Finance holds a workshop during which they make final revisions to the budgets and adopt an overall town budget that will then be presented and voted upon at the annual Town Budget Meeting in May. If 150 qualified Town Meeting voters do not attend the meeting, then a town-wide referendum must be held. All of these meetings are open to the public, and you are invited to attend and hear about the budget as it is being prepared. Please note that while there is time for public comment at the beginning of each meeting, the best time to give input on the budget is at the Board of Finance Public Hearing. All meeting dates are set forth below.
ALL MEETINGS AT THE CANTON COMMUNITY CENTER IN ROOM F, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.
February 12, 13 and 14, 6:00 pm: Department budget presentations to the Board of Selectmen
February 14, 7:00 pm, Board of Selectmen meeting (further budget discussion)
February 28, 7:00 pm: Board of Selectmen meeting (further budget discussion/adoption)
March 19, 6:00 pm: Board of Selectmen budget presentation to the Board of Finance
March 21, 6:00 pm: Board of Education budget presentation to the Board of Finance
**MONDAY, MARCH 26, 7:00 PM: PUBLIC HEARING ON THE BUDGET**
Monday, April 2, time TBA: Board of Finance budget workshop
**MONDAY, MAY 14, 7:00 pm: ANNUAL BUDGET MEETING AT CANTON HIGH SCHOOL**
I hope you will be able to attend one or more of these important meetings. As we continue to bear the impact of the state’s budget challenges, the Boards of Selectmen, Education, and Finance will be working together with town staff to manage the impact to the local taxpayers, while providing the critical services that make Canton a special place to live, work, and raise a family.
Leslee B. Hill