This FinCom presentation slide explains how free cash works... or should. Image via

Finance Committee pulls free cash Town Meeting article

April 4, 2024

By Betsy Levinson —  

The Finance Committee has voted to withdraw Article 14 from the Town Meeting warrant.  

The article proposed directing $1 million from the town’s free cash balance to the town assessors to reduce the tax levy for Fiscal Year 2025.  

The committee discussed three options: 

  • Leaving the article as written. 
  • Reducing the amount from $1 million to lower amounts. 
  • Ditching the action altogether.  

Members fear the free cash balance is too low to justify taking out another million, and other articles take $430,000 from free cash to support security for the Concord250 celebration and other smaller sums.  

“Reducing free cash is not good practice given the low level,” said member Chris Reynolds.  

The free cash balance stands at around the $7 million mark. It is “just over the minimum of $6.5 million,” said Don Kupka. He said the midpoint for a healthy free cash balance is $10 million.  

“I don’t want us to be at the minimum,” Kupka said. “It’s prudent to keep a healthy balance.”  

A slide from a FinCom presentation ahead of Town Meeting. Image via

Upcoming capital expenses, such as the middle school debt and the proposed $50 million Nagog Pond improvements and PFAS mitigation, will raise taxes.   

“Fiscal Year 2026 will be worse than FY25,” he said.  

The tax increase on the median assessed home of $1.4 million is approximately 4.59% without the $1 million infusion to the assessors.   

Peggy Briggs recommended transferring nothing.  

“There is an override for operations on the horizon,” Briggs said. “We should save money now.”  

Finding a balance 

Dee Ortner said keeping a healthy free cash balance helps maintain the town’s favorable credit rating for future borrowing.  

Greg Guarriello favored gradually drawing down the amount before “turning it off next year.”  

But Lois Wasoff urged “ripping off the band-aid all at once.”  

Chair Parashar Patel said Article 14 should be left to voters to decide at Town Meeting. He suggested offering a detailed explanation of the state of free cash and the impact on taxes and bringing it to a vote.  

“Let’s prompt a discussion,” said Patel.  

But his idea got shot down, and he withdrew it.  

“It’s our job to make a recommendation,” Wasoff said. “Let’s not duck our responsibility.”  

School articles  

Additionally, the FinCom voted to keep the regional high school budget at the guideline level, not raising it to the amount backed by the CCRSC.   

The regional district budget is the subject of Article 20.  

The FY25 regional school budget is approximately $39 million. Concord’s assessment is about $26.1 million. There is an estimated $121,000 gap between the guideline and what the school department wants for FY 2025.     

Patel said the committee “did not get timely information” to support the budget increase. “Why can’t the schools find $120,000?” he said. “It’s been the same number since January.”  

But Briggs said $120,000 out of $39 million was “not worth too much fuss and bother.”  

Wasoff warned that expenses are growing at a rate that exceeds revenue: “It’s unsustainable,” she said. 

The committee also backed Article 24, which seeks $446,000 for capital improvements at the K-8 schools, primarily Thoreau.