As of this writing, the Board of Finance is in the process of reviewing various department budgets and capital requests in order to propose the FY 2018/19 budget for the Town Meeting on May 8. A public hearing was held on April 25, and the budget proposal outlined below may include changes as a result of that meeting and outside factors such as adjustments to state aid that we have seen in the past. What was presented at the public hearing is an operating budget of $58,009,479, which represented an increase of $2.3M over 2017/18. Due to the use of $2M from the Fund Balance and other changes in revenues, the budget represents an estimated tax increase of 0.86%. State aid, including payments from the Airport Authority, represents $12.2M which is a decrease from the $14.4M we received just two years ago. Over the past few years, we have not had to reduce year over year operating budgets due to the cuts from the state, but our Fund Balance and capital projects have been impacted negatively, which will limit our ability to use them to insulate general operating budgets in the future. It should be noted that while the operating budgets will show an increase year after year, we have not been able to fully fund requested increases to the budgets being proposed by the Board of Education or town departments.
The proposed budget is made up of Board of Education expenditures of $34,719,732 and Board of Selectman expenditures of $15,646,348, increases of $107,888 and $453,527, respectively. Debt service represents $3.2M or an increase of $400K, from recent bonding activity. The Board increased capital spending in the proposed budget to over $2.9M, which includes $1M in funding to remediate the library. Capital spending was cut back in the prior year due to uncertainty in state aid, and the proposed budget brings the combination of capital and debt service to 11% of the total budget, which is consistent with the Board’s annual target. Plan to attend the town meeting on May 8 and cast your vote on the proposed budget.