$1 million less won't hurt Webster; Houle predicts `sound financial footing' for town.

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Byline: John Dignam

WEBSTER - The bad news is the town got $1 million less in certified free cash than it expected, but the good news is that the proposed fiscal 2008 budget won't be hurt by that.

And the better news is that the $1 million should be added to next year's free cash.

Town Administrator Raymond W. Houle Jr. told selectmen last night that the Department of Revenue certified $1,107,151 in free cash last Thursday, less than the $2.1 million he had expected and had worked into his proposed $31 million fiscal 2008 budget.

Mr. Houle had wanted to use $775,000 in free cash in next year's budget and put $1 million in free cash into the stabilization account. That account has been used to balance the budget in recent years and about $83,000 remains.

But the lower free cash amount has been offset by an extra $914,707 for the town in anticipated state money and $200,000 from the town's overlay surplus.

The main impact of the lower free cash amount will be that $700,000, rather than $1 million, will be put into the stabilization account.

Charles R. Cormier, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said Mr. Houle and town finance officers met as soon as the town received the certification last week to plan how to deal with it.

The $1.1 million in free cash will be used at the March 26 special town meeting to replenish the stabilization account and, with about $60,000 in transfers, erase deficits.

Mr. Houle said that approval of the special town meeting articles would "put the town on a sound financial footing and start clean for fiscal 2008."

The new revenue figures actually give the budget a surplus of about $150,000. Mr. Houle noted that there will be many places the excess could be...

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