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Citizens for Limited Taxation

Framingham official sees trouble on the horizon Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Tyler B. Reed 508-626-4423 Metrowest Daily News
FRAMINGHAM - The town's chief financial officer last night warned of an impending fiscal crunch if officials don't make long-term adjustments to stimulate local revenues.

Mary Ellen Kelley forecasts a budget gap that could grow as large as $13.4 million by fiscal 2012 if officials do not control salary increases and find ways to increase tax revenues.

Even with salaries increasing at the same rate as town revenues, Kelley said, the budget gap could reach $7.8 million by 2012.  The gap next year is likely to be at least $1.7 million, she said.

"We can't just save the FY08 gap and walk away," Kelley said in a presentation to the School Committee.

Kelley urged officials to pursue increased state reimbursements for special education and transportation costs, and said the town should try to lease more unused municipal building space.

Her comments came as she discussed her office's "Long Term Financial Forecast," a document presented to the Board of Selectmen last month.

School officials are just beginning their discussions of the budget for fiscal 2008, which begins next year.

Superintendent Christopher Martes has warned of another difficult year.

In other business last night, the School Committee signed off on a special Town Meeting warrant article asking for $360,000 to fix the Fuller Middle School auditorium ceiling, a portion of which caved in in October.

"This is important to us because of the timing of the bid process," Martes said.

The Board of Selectmen last night finalized the warrant for the Feb. 13 special Town Meeting.

The School Committee was also scheduled to give final approval to a revised substance abuse policy, which bans the abuse of legal substances like diet pills and cough syrup.

The toughened up policy would give school administrators the power to expel students caught selling, distributing or in possession of illegal drugs.

At press time last night, the committee had not returned from a closed-door executive session called to discuss a grievance.

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