Casco: Too much carried forward?

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — Local elected officials were concerned about what they perceived as a large sum of money being carried forward from the previous year’s budget.

The Casco Board of Selectmen recently questioned if there was a way to lower some of the carry-forward amounts.

If, year after year, the money was not being spent in a department, then it might make sense to decrease the amount allotted for those budgets, members of the board said.

At the time, Town Manager Dave Morton said the numbers the selectmen were looking at were small in comparison to the town’s entire budget.

“First of all, the amount is very little compared to what we spend in our budget,” Morton said.

“The second thing is, we don’t want to encourage people (in departments) to spend every penny in the budget,” he said.

Additionally, it is wise planning to have extra money for the unexpected, he said, especially in accounts like road repair and wintertime road maintenance.

Also, several accounts always carry forward, Morton said. Some examples of those include unemployment insurance, health insurance, year-end payroll and animal control fees, he said. By law, the town must carry adequate unemployment insurance; and $20,000 is required for that, he said.

For now, the selectmen agreed to wait until the budget process to address which carry-forwards could be avoided — and possibly put toward other town programs. Typically, the finance committee begins meeting after the New Year, starting with weekly meetings around February. Selectmen often attend the Casco Finance Committee meetings.

During the budget planning process, the committee sometimes uses anticipated carry-forward funds to lower the tax burden on residents.

Still, the matter of carry forwards is something the board would like to review.

Selectman Tracy Kimball said, “I would like a little more history from year to year. I would like to see it laid out, what is reasonable to expect, and what we are just not using.”

“It is something that is going to be addressed going forward instead of reacting to it now,” Kimball said.

Selectman Ray Grant agreed.

“When the new budget comes forward, we should do it,” Grant said.

Morton said the board could talk to the town auditor again until it feels comfortable with the carry forward amounts in Casco’s budget.

 

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