About the Finance Committee
Town Meeting is the legislative body responsible for appropriating money to fund all Town and School expenses. The Finance Committee (commonly known as Fincom) is the principal financial advisor to Town Meeting. The Finance Committee is not a decision-making body; rather it is a deliberative and advisory committee. The Finance Committee has all the powers and duties granted to Finance Committees under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Town Charter and Bylaws, Town Meeting vote, and all other applicable laws.
The responsibilities of the Finance Committee include:
- Establishing budget guidance each year for the Town Manager and the School Committee
- Ensuring budget guidance adheres to Finance Committee policies
- Providing a written recommendation to Town Meeting on all articles which involve the expenditure, appropriation, and raising or borrowing of funds
- Recommending a balanced budget at the Annual Town Meeting (this means projected expenses must not exceed projected revenues)
- Overseeing the Town's appropriated Reserve Fund, voting to transfer money from this fund, when emergency, unforeseen, or extraordinary expenses occur
- Investigating the books, accounts, records, and management of any office, board, or committee in Town
These responsibilities are carried out with the objective of providing sound and comprehensive advice to Town Meeting that promotes, maintains and strengthens the long-term financial health of the town within a level of property taxation that is sustainable and supportable by the residents of Reading.
The Finance Committee is made up of 9 members who are appointed and serve in accordance with Section 2.12.1 of the Town of Reading Home Rule Charter and Section 126.96.36.199 of the Town of Reading General Bylaws. Finance Committee members serve staggered three-year terms. With limited exception, no Finance Committee Member can serve for more than three (3) consecutive three-year terms. Finance Committee members are appointed by majority vote of an Appointment Committee made up of the Town Moderator, the Chair of the Select Board, and the Chair of the Finance Committee. Finance Committee members cannot be town employees and cannot be members of any other standing committee. Finance Committee members may serve as a member of an ad hoc board, commission or committee or to any board, commission or committee upon which a member of the Finance Committee shall serve in an ex officio capacity. Additionally, Finance Committee members are allowed to serve as a Town Meeting member.
Staff assistance is provided to the Finance Committee by the Town Manager, Town Finance Director, and others. The Town Finance Director provides direct staff support to the Finance Committee and attends its meetings. Members of the Finance Committee observe other Town boards and committees' public meetings to assist the Finance Committee's understanding of current and emerging financial matters before the Town.
A Typical Fiscal Year for the Finance Committee
The Municipal Fiscal Year Runs from July 1 – June 30. Here’s how a typical year looks for the Finance Committee.
July – August: Quiet Season
- The fiscal year begins on July 1.
- This is the quietest time of year for Fincom. There are typically few, if any, meetings.
September – October: Financial Projections and Guidance
- Fincom meets regularly in the fall to begin planning the following fiscal year’s budget.
- Municipal Finance staff provide a minimum three-year financial projection to facilitate longer term financial planning.
- Fincom typically hosts at least one Financial Forum in the fall, bringing together the Select Board and School Committee in an Open Meeting. Municipal Finance Staff and Fincom share financial projections.
- Fincom provides input on how much, if any, free cash to use to stabilize the operating budget.
- Fincom provides budget guidance to the Town Manager and School Department.
- Fincom reviews all Subsequent Town Meeting Warrant Articles and provides a written recommendation of approval or disapproval on all articles which involve the expenditure of funds.
November: Subsequent Town Meeting
- Fincom attends Subsequent Town Meeting and reports their recommendations on all articles which involve the expenditure, appropriation, and raising or borrowing of funds.
December – January: Presentations and Public Input
- From December through February 1, the Town Manager, Superintendent of Schools, Town and School Staff, and Elected Boards hold public open meetings to discuss their budgets and work out any outstanding issues.
February: The Town Manager Prepares a Balanced Budget
- The School Committee must present a budget to the Town Manager by February 1.
- The Town Manager must present a balanced budget to Fincom by March 1. This budget includes line-item budgets for all municipal departments and an overall allocation for the Reading Public Schools.
March: Fincom Budget Recommendation to Annual Town Meeting
- Beginning in March, or late February, if possible, Fincom reviews the Town Manager’s Proposed Budget in a series of public Open Meetings.
- Fincom must vote a balanced budget in advance of Annual Town Meeting.
- Fincom reviews all Town Meeting Warrant Articles and provides a written recommendation of approval or disapproval on all articles which involve the expenditure, appropriation, and raising or borrowing of funds.
April: Annual Town Meeting
- Fincom attends the Annual Town Meeting and reports their recommendations on all articles which involve the expenditure, appropriation, and raising or borrowing of funds.
May – June: Wrapping up the Fiscal Year
- Fincom reorganizes, electing a new Chair and Vice Chair.
- Meetings might focus on wrapping up any special projects or looking ahead of special projects Fincom might want to take up in the following fiscal year.
- Annual review of Fincom page on town website. Discuss what should be added or archived.
- The Fiscal Year ends on June 30.
Joseph CarnahanVice Chair