Budget forecasting is meant to be a tool used by the Board of Selectman, Finance Committee, School Committee, and Town management to review trends and determine the effects of decisions that are made. Long-term financial planning is not meant to be an exact science and cannot include all possible scenarios or new costs that Ashland may face in the future. It also cannot predict economic downturns and/or major state aid reductions or increases beyond what can be estimated based on past trends. It does provide information regarding likely scenarios based on present knowledge and past trends.
Forecasting is about seeing the “big picture” and allows for a multi-year approach to managing expectations, addressing future shortfalls (structural deficits), enhancing fiscal stability, and gaining consensus around forecast assumptions. Multi-year forecasts are the only way to identify trends.
Forecasting is an ongoing part of planning.