Better budgeting next year

At the last Selectmen meeting, the Warrant Committee came to discuss improving on the town’s budget process.  I suggested we record “action items” related to the budget discussions we held, so things discussed would get accomplished, and Richard DeSorgher turned my idea around on me by asking me to write up the action items. Hence, below are my suggested action items from our discussion. Responsible parties to complete tasks were not always assigned in the discussion, and in my draft I have merely suggested a responsible party.

This is a good start to bringing greater discipline and transparency to the town’s budget process, which is needed.  Ultimately, I would like to see the budgets and as much of the budgeting process as possible be on-line, so residents can have easy access the data, information, and financial decisions by which their town is run.  I suggest that we put the details of the budgets and town checkbook on-line, just as the state now does, so residents can have that easy access to the information.

Future new initiatives, such as the Straw Hat Park, should not be required to overcome a “steep learning curve” about the town budgets to accomplish its task.  To flatten that learning curve, I propose that the town administrator publish a guide for them to use on how the town’s budget process operates.

6/16/15 Financial Planning Meeting

Board of Selectmen
Warrant Committee

  1. New town initiatives
    1. budgets need to be discussed at time new initiatives are recommended
    2. discretionary budget of $25,000 – $50,000 for the Board of Selectmen
      1. RESPONSIBILITY = town administrator
        1. to create discretionary budget;
        2. to make sure the Board of Selectmen and Warrant Committee confer and agree on budgets for new initiatives; and
        3. create a guide to the budgeting process for future new initiatives to follow
  2. Capital budget
    1. require five year projections
    2. creation of a 20 year capital improvement budget
      1. RESPONSIBILITY = town administrator
  3. Operating budget
    1. Uniform format for proposed budgets – (not discussed or resolved)
      1. RESPONSIBILITY = town administrator
    2. Budget calendar – create and share a template to reuse year by year going forward
      1. RESPONSIBILITY = town administrator
    3. early meetings of Warrant Committee and the Board of Selectmen with department to establish budget parameters
      1. RESPONSIBILITY = Warrant Committee and town administrator
  4. September meeting to discuss budgeting issues and planning for the future
    1. RESPONSIBILITY = town administrator

3 responses to “Better budgeting next year

  1. Hi Pete, thank you for your efforts towards making the town finances more transparent. By the way, Arlington, MA has the town budget online at and uses a tool for this that is available free of charge under an open source license( it is not quite as intuitive as commercial platforms (like, but it is free and it would be a start. I will take closer look at this if I have some spare cycles.


    • Selectman Osler "Pete" Peterson


      I saw the Arlington software at the Mass. Municipal Annual meeting in January and suggested its adoption after seeing it then. That developer,, is located in Arlington, it is open source, but we can also pay them to install it for us. Either or, I think was the other one, would be great to have in Medfield.

      I use Arlington as my paradigm for capital budgeting.

      Thanks for your input.


  2. Installed and configured for Medfield: