Bedford Town Manager Sarah Stanton discussed tough financial decisions that had to be made by the town during the pandemic.

“Budgeting in the Unknown” was the topic of the Massachusetts Municipal Management Association’s virtual meeting on Oct. 14, attended by nearly 100 members.

Amherst Town Manager Paul Bockelman kicked off the discussion by saying, “Don’t freak out!”

A stable local government, he said, is of high value to each community. He discussed ways that he and his team in Amherst are achieving stability, such as establishing a capital reserve fund and working with the school department on multiyear forecasting.

Brookline Deputy Town Administrator Melissa Goff said she and her team have made use of the well-established Town-School Partnership, which includes members of the Select Board, School Committee and Advisory Committee. Goff credited this group with making some of the difficult budget discussions easier to manage while looking at both fiscal 2021 and 2022.

Bedford Town Manager Sarah Stanton focused on the tough decisions the town has made in the current fiscal year, with the intention of making future budget years less difficult. She said it was hard to see projects that have been in the works for years, such as a new police and fire station, be put on hold. A bright spot, she said, was a new online permitting system that launched during the pandemic.

Budgeting in The Unknown – Town of Amherst presentation (580K PDF)

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