Poor revenues could push town's shortfall higher

Unfortunately, that money would not offset the shortfall already anticipated in the general fund, or the lackluster revenue estimates just in.

The new estimates came on the eve of the town entering into the 2011 budget process. The first departmental budget meetings with the Town Board occurred Monday and Tuesday evenings, after The Spotlight went to print, and the budget gap was likely to play a central role in those discussions and in future meetings.

"I have a feeling our workshops are going to be long into the night," said Councilwoman Joann Dawson at a recent Town Board meeting. "I think we have to do some very serious analysis and start looking at that before we even start to look at next year."

Taking the shortfall out of the general fund's reserves would spend those savings down to very near 15 percent of the total fund, the level generally needed to maintain cash flow. With soaring health-care and retirement costs on tap for 2011, Town Board members were reticent to consider this.

"My thinking as we move into the budget process is we look very critically at moving any money out of the fund balance," said Councilman Mark Hennessey.

"We also have to start thinking about policy decisions we might make for next year, this year," said Councilman Kyle Kotary. "These numbers really concern me."

Still, there was some solace to be found in the fact lower expenditures will hopefully keep the shortfall from being crippling.

"We've chipped away about half of that, and now we're going to have to do some more," said Supervisor Sam Messina. ""

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