WHITMAN — There will be no Proposition 2 ½ vote in Whitman for the fiscal 2021 budget, Selectman Randy LaMattina told the full board during its Tuesday, Jan. 14 meeting.
A fiscal 2022 override, however, has not yet been ruled out.
During a marathon three-and-a-half-hour meeting the previous night, the Budget Override Evaluation Committee decided.
Town Administrator Frank Lynam said a joint meeting between Selectmen and the Finance Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 21 will further discuss the issues.
“We had quite a bit of discussion [Monday night] that probably will be best served giving one presentation next week at a joint meeting,” LaMattina said. “It’s a very complex budget — lot of questions still up in the air, issues still in flux with the schools — but what has been determined is that … with the adoption of some policies that the consultant has recommended, it was the determination of the board last evening that we will not seek an override for fiscal year 2021.”
He added that, more than likely, an override for fiscal 2022, even with the option of more stringent policies, may still be on the table.
“But we feel confident that departments will be sustainable, some may actually see growth and we will have money to fund a very solid part of the Collins Report for capital projects,” LaMattina said.
LaMattina added that a strategic budget plan was “the only missing piece” and, with the work done by the Budget Override Evaluation Committee, “80 percent of it is there.”
That will be addressed at next week’s meeting, as well.
“You’ve done the groundwork for being able to come up with something in writing,” Selectmen Chairman Dr. Carl Kowalski said. “The strategic plan is impossible without the work that your committee has done.”
LaMattina credited the members of the Budget Override Evaluation Committee: Selectmen Justin Evans, Fire Chief Timothy Grenno, resident Christopher George, Finance Committee members David Codero, Scott Lambiase and John Galvin, School Committee member Dawn Byers, Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Szymaniak and DPW Superintendent Bruce Martin for the time they committed to the work over the past couple of months.
Capital projects focused on were Whitman Middle School and the DPW building.
“The Budget Override Committee is definitely recommending some type of article be places on the May warrant for a feasibility re-evaluation of the DPW building,” LaMattina said.
Selectman Brian Bezanson lauded the committee for doing a lot of work in a short amount of time.
“It brought to light a lot of information for everybody that we otherwise might not have had,” he said.
“We thanked the committee, but I think we also have to thank Randy,” Kowalski said. “It was a huge task to lead this group, and the most important work that this board has done for a while.”
In other business, Lynam announced that, after two years of work by the DPW, the town has received a grant for $363,674 to redesign and layout the intersection of Essex Street and Park Avenue.
“That has been a challenging intersection over the years because of the way it merges,” Lynam said.