State statutes and the Town Charter as amended established the Selectmen - Town Manager form of government. The Town Manager recommends a budget for municipal and school operations for the fiscal year beginning July 1 and ending June 30 of the following calendar year. The Select Board reviews and submits the budget to Town Meeting.
A representative Town Meeting comprising approximately 200 elected Town Meeting Members is the legislative body and has sole authority to appropriate funds. Town Meeting debates and may amend the recommended budget, and finally adopts the operating budget and capital budget for the next fiscal year.
The Town of Lexington's budget is developed through a highly collaborative and public process that engages the Select Board, the School Committee, the Appropriation Committee, the Capital Expenditures Committee, the Town and School staff, and citizens.
The Finance Department budget office is responsible for coordinating, developing, and monitoring the annual budget process.
Major Steps in Budget Development
- Summer - Elected boards, Town Manager and School Superintendent establish goals and priorities.
- Early fall - Staff develop budget requests.
- Late Fall / Early Winter - Departments present requests at Select Board meetings, where feedback from citizens is invited. The School Committee reviews and adopts its requested budget in a similar public process.
- Fall / Winter - At a series of working summit meetings the Select Board, the School Committee, the Appropriation Committee, and the Capital Expenditures Committee discuss budget issues and provide policy guidance to the Town and School staff in finalizing the budget recommendations. The Town Manager reviews budget requests and makes recommendations for all Town programs, including the total budget for the Schools.
- Early Spring - A month before Town Meeting discusses financial articles, the budget is distributed to Town Meeting members and the finance committees; it is also available to citizens at the Library and the Town Manager's Office. Prior to the first session of the annual Town Meeting, the Select Board mails the Town Warrant, containing a draft of all financial and non-financial articles to be considered by Town Meeting, to all Lexington households.
- Spring - The annual Town Meeting begins in March with meetings held on weekday evenings. Town Meeting debates and adopts budget after making any amendments it deems appropriate - within the constraints of Proposition 2.5 and balanced budget requirements.
The budget may be amended at the following year's annual Town Meeting. If earlier adjustments are required, a Special Town Meeting may be called.