Bridgewater is currently preparing the budget for fiscal year 2015, facing several challenges along the way.
Town Manager Michael Dutton talked about the importance of staying on the current financial path the town has worked hard to get on.
“One of the challenges that I face is that Bridgewater has done a really good job of getting its finances back in order,” he said, “The even more challenging thing to do is make sure that we stay on that track.”
Dutton anticipates a lot of what he calls “fixed cost” increases, including: contractual obligations and pension assessment. “[We'll have] a number of things that are really adding pressure to the expense side of the budget,” he said.
Dutton will be submitting a preliminary budget by February 1st, including all of the department heads’ “wish-list” requests.
“Everybody wants to try to get back employees that they lost throughout the last five or 10 years,” Dutton said, “Certainly primary among those are the Police Department and the Highway Department.”
Dutton acknowledged that they will try to add staff to both of those departments. He added that the Police Department has seen some increases, but the Highway Department has not seen many.
“We don’t want to get to a position where our infrastructure is crumbling because we can’t hire staff to take care of it,” Dutton said.
Dutton hopes to have an “almost-balanced” budget submitted sometime around the beginning of March.