Town Budget Building Has Begun
When Town Meeting rolls around in March, a lot of people will have something to say about their town and school budgets. But if you really want to be part of the budgeting conversations in your town, now is the time to start paying attention.
This is the time of year select boards in towns across Vermont are holding budget work sessions and meeting with department heads to build the budgets that are presented at Town Meeting. Similarly, school boards are working closely with their principals and superintendents to come up with a spending plan for the next school year.
In towns that employ a town manager, such as Norwich, or a town administrator, such as Hinesburg, it is often part of that person's job to bring an initial budget proposal to the select board for fine tuning, or a major overhaul, as the case may be.
In many towns, select boards spend November and December meeting with various department heads and going through the budget section by section. Those meetings inform the final budget work that happens in January. By the end of January town and school budget proposals are finalized and warned for Town Meeting.
By the time residents receive their town reports in February, it is much harder for constructive feedback to be incorporated before a budget is adopted than if the same issues were raised in November.