The fiscal year of the town shall begin on the first day of July and shall end on the last day of June, unless another period is required by the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Within the time fixed by by-law, before the annual town meeting is to convene, the Town Manager, after consultation with the Board of Selectmen, shall submit to the finance committee a proposed, balanced, operating budget for the ensuing fiscal year with an accompanying budget message and supporting documents. The Town Manager shall simultaneously provide for the publication of a general summary of the proposed budget in a local newspaper and via the town's website.
The summary shall specifically indicate any major variations from the current operating budget and the reason for such changes. The notice shall further indicate the times and places at which the complete copies of the proposed operating budget are available for examination by the public.
The budget message of the Town Manager shall explain the budget for all town agencies, both in fiscal terms and in terms of work programs. It shall outline proposed financial policies of the town for the ensuing fiscal year, describe important features of the budget, indicate any major variations from the current year in financial policies, expenditures and revenues, together with the reasons for such changes, summarize the town's debt position and include other material as the Town Manager deems desirable or the Board of Selectmen may reasonably require.
The proposed operating budget shall provide a complete financial plan for all town funds and activities for the ensuing fiscal year. Except as may be otherwise be required by the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by this charter, or by by-law, it shall be in the form which the Town Manager deems desirable or the Board of Selectmen may require. In the presentation of the budget, the Town Manager shall utilize modern concepts of fiscal presentation so as to furnish maximum information and the best financial control. The budget shall show, in detail, all estimated income from the proposed property tax levy and other sources and all proposed expenditures, including debt service, for the following year. The budget shall be arranged to show the actual and estimated income and expenditures for the previous, current and ensuing fiscal years and shall indicate in separate sections:
Proposed expenditures for current operations during the ensuing fiscal year, detailed by town agency and position in terms of work programs, and the method of financing such expenditures;
Proposed capital expenditures during the ensuing fiscal year, detailed by town agency, and the proposed method of financing each such capital expenditure;
Estimated surplus revenue and free cash at the end of the current fiscal year, including estimated balances in any special accounts established for specific purposes.
[Amended 1-4-2013 by Chapter 407, Acts of 2012]
The finance committee shall, upon receipt of the budget from the Town Manager, consider in public meetings detailed expenditures for each town department and agency and may confer with representatives of each such agency in connection with its review and consideration. The finance committee may require the Town Manager, or any other town agency, to furnish it with such additional information as it may deem necessary to assist it in its review and consideration of the proposed budget. The finance committee shall file with the town clerk at least 10 days prior to town meeting a report containing its recommendation for action to be taken on each line item in the proposed operating budget as submitted by the Town Manager. The report shall also be made available to voters of the town immediately after the filing with the town clerk, in the manner provided in the town by-laws, and at town meeting. Additionally, copies of said report shall be made available to voters of the town at town meeting. The budget shall be voted upon in accordance with the by-laws of the town.
The Town Manager shall submit a capital improvement program to the Board of Selectmen and the finance committee at least six (6) months before the start of the fiscal year. Said program shall be based on material prepared by the capital improvement committee established by by-law, if any, including:
A clear, concise general summary of its contents;
A list of all capital improvements proposed to be undertaken during the next ensuing five years, with supporting information as to the need or each capital improvement;
Cost estimates, methods of financing and recommended time schedules for each improvement; and
The estimated annual cost of operating and maintaining each facility and piece of major equipment involved.
The Board of Selectmen shall annually provide for an independent audit of all financial books and records of the town, or, whenever it deems an audit of the whole town or of any particular town agency, to be necessary.
Audits of the town's financial books and records shall be conducted by a certified public accountant, or firm of such accountants, having no interest, direct or indirect, in the affairs of the town.
The Town Manager shall be the chief fiscal officer of the town. Warrants for the payment of town funds prepared and signed by the town accountant in accordance with the provisions of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts shall be submitted to the Town Manager. The approval of any such warrant by the Town Manager and at least three members of the Board of Selectmen shall be sufficient authority to authorize payment by the town treasurer, but the Board of Selectmen shall alone approve all warrants prepared and signed by the town accountant in the event of the absence of the Town Manager or a vacancy in the office of Town Manager.