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 2019/20 budget for the Town meeting on May 8. A public hearing will be held on April 24th and the budget proposal outlined below may change as a result of that meeting and outside factors such as adjustments to state aid that we have seen in the past.
What will be presented at the public hearing is an operating budget of $59,304,109 which represents an increase of 1.6% from 2018/19. This year is different than most due to a revaluation that was conducted which will impact each taxpayer differently. While the real estate and property subject to Town tax has increased, much of this increase is not driven by improvements or new construction. As a result, the mill rate being proposed under the budget is 28.72. This is lower than prior year, but will result in a tax increase for most taxpayers that will vary based on the results of the revaluation. Increases should be relatively close to inflation. State aid, including payments from the Airport Authority, represent $13.2M which is a decrease from the $14.4M we received just three years ago but an increase over the prior year.
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 over year, we have not been able to fully fund requested increases to the budgets being proposed by the Board of Education (BOE) or Town departments.
The proposed budget is made up of BOE expenditures of $35,547,870 and Board of Selectmen expenditures of $16,095,658, increases of $740,638 and $449,310, respectively. Debt service represents $3.3M which is slightly up from the prior year due to the upcoming delivery of new fire trucks. The Board increased capital spending in the proposed budget to over $3.8M which includes $640K in Town share funding towards Remington Street Bridge reconstruction and approximately $900K in various school improvements.
Capital spending has been cut back in the prior years due to uncertainty in state aid, and the proposed budget brings the combination of capital and debt service to just over 11% of the total budget, which is consistent with the Board’s annual target.
Plan to attend the public hearing on the budget and Town meeting so that you can learn more on the proposed budget and ask any questions that you may have.