Rockport back in black after paving snafu

By Dwight Collins | Apr 19, 2014
Photo by: Dwight Collins Rockport Town Manager Richard Bates tells the Select Board April 14 that a potential shortfall in the 2013-14 municipal budget due to errors in the paving budget was avoided and the town is in "pretty good shape" as the budget year closes.

Rockport — Once faced with a nearly $100,000 shortage in the 2012-2013 municipal budget due to mistakes in the paving budget, Rockport Town Manager Richard Bates announced April 14 that due to an unexpected increase in revenue and a reduction in spending, the budget looks to be balanced as the year comes to a close.

“The good news is that after all of the bad news we had last fall about a potential for a serious overrun in our budget, the department heads and everyone else worked very hard so that we should be pretty well set for this year," Bates told the select board. “Of course this means there were things we didn’t do, like purchase a new truck for the public works, we didn’t hire additional staff or a library director, and there have been a bunch of things that we deferred doing that we may want to consider as the year ends.”

In September, Bates recommended selectmen not use the town's entire undesignated fund balance [UFB] to avoid layoffs and cutbacks. At that time, he recommended a reduction in the public works budget along with use of a portion of the undesignated fund balance and a focus on spending when cash is available.

The recommendations Bates made in the fall were put into action and the town was able to recover in a short period of time, he said.

“We are in reasonably good shape and it is possible that we will be able to turn money back in to the UFB,” Bates said. “I’m impressed and surprised that we were able to do all of this because we were facing an almost $100,000 shortfall."

He added, “But because of revenue coming in better than expected, being able to control expenditures and better financial forecasting, we were able to spend in a more efficient manner.”

Public Works officials anticipated needing 1,850 tons of asphalt for resurfacing roads, but the final budget approved by the voters only asked for 850 tons – a 1,000 ton, $78,000 mistake – which the town needed to account for.

For decades, Rockport budgeted for road repair using a tonnage formula for asphalt, but changed the way of doing business in the last few years, leaving it up to the Public Works director and town manager to decide what specific road would be fixed or resurfaced.

This budget season, the town decided to go back to the old way of doing things and provided tonnage amounts to the public works and town manager.

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