The Oak Bluffs annual town budget is set to increase by about 1.7 per cent in the coming fiscal year, with the town administrator calling the nearly $24.6 million budget “very lean.”
At a budget presentation Wednesday night, finance advisory committee chairman Steve Auerbach outlined some goals of the fiscal year 2014 budget: there are plans to restore a limited lifeguard program for town beaches and recreational summer tennis and basketball programs, and the budget includes a new full-time position for a technical assistant for the building department and board of health. The budget also allows an additional $23,200 for a study about modernizing the fire department.
“To me this represents a balance between not overburdening people with property taxes, keeping them steady and predictable, while continuing to invest in the town’s future,” Mr. Auerbach said.
The financial committee will vote on the budget at an upcoming meeting, he said, and voters will have the final say on the budget at the annual town meeting in April.
In his recommendation to the board of selectmen, town administrator Robert Whritenour said the budget takes into account the board’s strategic plan for the town. “The budget attempts to allocate our limited town resources toward taking the first meaningful steps toward implementing priority projects,” Mr. Whritenour said in the budget recommendation.
He noted the number one priority remains improving the Oak Bluffs financial position. Two years ago the town had a free cash deficit of nearly $1 million, but lowering estimated revenue and cutting spending have helped to reduce that amount. Mr. Whritenour said the town should have positive free cash by the end of fiscal year 2014.