Fiscal stability involves not only planning to pay for needed services years into the future but also being prepared for unexpected circumstances. That’s why the work sessions will also look at ways to protect the town’s AAA bond rating, to reduce reliance on free cash to offset the operating budget, and to preserve financial reserves including stabilization funds.
According to the DOR, towns can recover 100 percent of the cost of providing fee-based services. Orleans has not taken that route in charging for its transfer station sticker, preferring to subsidize part of the cost of the operation from general funds. Also, voters have opposed a resident beach sticker fee that would help subsidize declining beach revenues. A couple of years ago, a revenue committee created by the board of selectmen recommended changes to increase receipts to the town; their work will be revisited this summer. Likewise, the select board will revisit the old and vexing question of whether residents are entitled to certain services by virtue of living here or whether many services should be supported in full by fees.
The select board and finance committee members will spend time examining the town’s Top 10 largest budgets. These are, in descending order, the elementary school ($5,426,172), the regional school district ($4,818,616), the fire department ($3,134,502), health/Medicare costs ($2,832,639), the police department ($2,776,741), the beaches ($830,342), highway ($739,623), council on aging ($736,919), the transfer station ($716,376), and the library ($676,502).