Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Amherst budget preparation begins Thursday

Budget preparation for next year officially begins Thursday when four municipal boards gather to get financial projections and learn about trends in both revenues and expenses.

Town Manager John Musante said the annual “four boards” meeting, which brings together the Select Board, School Committee, Finance Committee and trustees for the Jones Library at Town Room at Town Hall at 6:30 p.m., will update these elected and appointed officials on key issues confronting the town before budgets are formed for fiscal year 2014.

“All the boards and key staff will all have the same set of baseline information as we get into the budget process,” Musante said.

He said Finance Director Sanford “Sandy” Pooler will be leading the discussion, providing a review of the year-end financial picture which showed the town with a net operating surplus of $1.1 million, as well as $796,026 that was not spent for cleanup related to the October 2011 snowstorm and repairs at Puffer’s Pond that were dependent on a state grant.

Pooler is expected to talk about the Other Post-Employment Benefits Trust fund and how the town can begin addressing these long-term costs to the town.

The Budget Coordinating Group, which is made up of town, school and library officials, has already agreed that $585,342 in excess state aid should go into this account.

The next step will be the Finance Committee releasing its preliminary budget guidelines in early November. Musante will unveil his proposed budget on or before Jan. 16, as required under the town government act, and the schools and library will be preparing their budgets early in the new year.

— SCOTT MERZBACH

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