The Town of Natick is projecting an $8.7 million loss in revenue in FY2021.
This will drastically impact both the school and municipal budgets.
Why is there a budget gap?
PNF's volunteers have been working hard to understand Natick's budget and the challenge we face today. To get started, here is a short video on the budget and where we are as of June 13, 2020:
In short, COVID-19 has made a tight budget even tighter. Here's why:
Last year: Natick Public Schools (NPS) used savings to pay operating costs
In FY20, NPS spent $69.5 million. This is $1.7 million dollars more than the budget that was approved by Town Meeting. NPS achieved this by leveraging available free cash, prepaying some services, and other strategies. Municipal departments spent $38.8 million.
In January 2020: NPS called for an increase in the Fiscal 2021 operating budget
In January ("pre-COVID"), the School Committee determined $72.9 million was needed to provide services to NPS. The Town Administrator proposed a budget of $71.2 million for NPS ($1.7 million less than requested) and $38.5 million for municipal services. This budget was never approved by Town Meeting, which was rescheduled due to COVID-19. In March the School Committee was able to reduce their budget proposal to $71.5 million dollars so that a gap of only $300K between the allocations remained as of early March.
On May 11: The Town Administrator presented a revised budget with $8.3 million gap
The Town Administrator proposed a new budget for FY21 that reflects a decline in state aid and local receipts due to COVID-19. The new budget effectively decreases funds for NPS to $66.8 million and funds for municipal services to $38.08 million. This represents cuts of $1.8 million from what NPS actually spent in FY20, $4.4 million in cuts to the pre-COVID budget proposed in January by the Town Administrator, and $6 million in cuts from the pre-COVID budget proposed by the School Committee.
On June 4th, the School Committee voted to adjust the NPS budget to $69M.
The School Committee reduced their budget by eliminating most new hires from their original list in January and not rehiring some positions left vacant by retirements. Negotiations are in process with the paraprofessionals, teachers and administrative assistant unions for the remaining reductions needed to reduce the school budget to $69 million.
On June 8th, the Town Administrator presented the amended FY21 Budget to the Board of Selectmen.
The presentation included an allocation of $67.1 million for NPS and $38 million for Municipal.
Department heads are meeting with the Finance Committee Members to go through the amended budgets. Consider, attending one of the meetings posted here to learn about these budgets. PNF will be attending and asking questions at these meetings to determine what cuts have been made, what areas of savings still exist so that we can inform the public.