The primary responsibility of the Finance Committee is the recommendation of action on the annual Town budget and all other municipal questions to Town Meeting.
The Finance Committee works closely with the Assessor's Office to determine projected revenues of the Town from local and State sources, including the "cherry sheet" that records state aid formats for the Town and the schools. On the basis of that information, the Finance Committee develops budgetary guidelines for all Town Departments to be used in the preparation of departmental budgets. Departmental budgets are sent to the Finance Committee for review and approval. When accepted by the FinCom, the departmental budget is included in the overall Town budget. The FinCom recommends action on the Town budget to Town Meeting.
The total budget includes items other than Departmental budgets, including debt service, the Town's share of regional school budgets, and allocations for other funds, including:
- Reserve Fund - an appropriation not exceeding five percent of the tax levy of the preceding year. The Reserve fund is used for extraordinary or unforeseen expenditures. Transfers from this fund are approved by the Finance Committee.
- Stabilization Fund - a special account, invested until used, which provides funds for any use approved by a two thirds vote of the Town Meeting.
- Overlay Reserve Fund - an appropriation not exceeding five percent of the tax levy, used by the assessors in excess of appropriations and other charges to cover abatement grants, statutory exemptions and to avoid fractions when the tax rate is set. At the end of the fiscal year, any unused overlay funds revert to the General Fund.
The Finance Committee reviews budgets and make recommendations to the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee, as appropriate, and presents the Committee's assessment to the Annual Town Meeting.The Finance Committee also issues an opinion on each of the warrant articles presented to the Town Meeting.
The Finance Committee does not prepare Department budgets or negotiate with the various unions representing Town employees. School Committees are responsible for teacher contracts and the Selectmen are responsible for all other union negotiations. Non-union wages and salaries are recommended by the Town Coordinator in thir capacity as the Town's Personnel Director.