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The Challenges We Face for the 2021 Budget

Click HERE  to view the first two out of three videos that address the budgetary challenges we are facing for the 2021 budget and beyond.  

I am presenting the 2021 budget as one significant step in our “Path Toward Stability”. This year the town lost 60% of its primary income. Our budget of $2.5 million is supported by nearly $1 million in diminishing savings.  No family, business or municipality can sustain such a circumstance.

We must plan to regain financial balance and institute stability. This will be done by establishing a sound budgetary base in 2021 and then through rigorous planning for the final four years of our multi-year financial recovery plan. A key to our success will be periodic measurement of our progress and adjustments along the way to ensure our success.

The Supervisor’s Tentative Budget glances back at our recent history and establishes a benchmark budget of 2015 to which we have recreated not just an identical budget total but also duplicated the tax levy of that year. we have accomplished this through a rigorous zero-based review of all expenses which has allowed us to cut the current budget while adjusting revenue recovery from potential losses due to the pandemic.

I have chosen to benchmark 2021 on the 2015 budget, because all of the intervening years, and most particularly the current one, have relied upon savings and not income. This cannot be sustained. Each of these past few years are recognized by the Comptroller and Certified Public Accountants as a budget that is “structurally unbalanced.”  Savings is not income.

The plan for 2021 also reduces our reliance upon savings from $950,000 [which happened after an election was lost], to $200,000, which I believe will be sustainable into the future.

The impact of this budget will restore taxes to nearly the precise amounts that were paid last year [2019]. Our current estimates indicate that the owner of a $200,000 property would pay $44.65 more next year and the owner of a $300,000 property $66.97, or $5.58 per month. Each additional $100,000 in property value would add $22.32 per year.

In addition, we will make the payment of taxes easier than in the past. Residents will be given the opportunity to make two payments, one at the normal winter deadline, and another in the spring.

As we move forward in our budget deliberations, I ask the Board and the community to recognize the truth about our financial condition. Some have claimed that “We have plenty of money.” We do have savings left and the real question is “How best to use it?”

My budget proposal is a conservative effort to maintain our programs, services and staff in a manner that is sound and familiar to our residents.

I look forward to answering every question, considering every recommendation, and addressing every recommendation, provided that they are presented in the good interest of Stanford and its taxpayers.

All the best

Wendy Burton