As of this writing, the Board of Finance has completed its review of various department budgets and capital requests in in order to propose the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022/23 budget for the Town Meeting on May 11. A public hearing will be held on April 27, 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 $62,880,936, representing an increase of .89% from 2021/22. Despite this increase, the mill rate being proposed under the budget is relatively flat at 28.61. Given the inflationary pressures felt by all and challenges coming out of COVID, the board felt strongly that it wanted to maintain as low a tax increase a possible on the residents. As many are aware, auto values have gone up drastically, and residents should expect their corresponding property taxes on those vehicles to increase under the assessment criteria set by the state. The increased tax revenue on vehicles has enabled the mill rate to stay flat and cover the proposed .89% increase in the operating budget.
This year is a little different as the Town will not only vote on the operating budget but will also vote on the proposed use of ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds that were allocated to the Town as part of the stimulus passed by Congress. $2.1 million was approved by the Boards of Selectmen and Finance in advance of the budget presentation based on recommendations made by the Town ARPA committee. These include funding of $500,000 for COVID medical claims under the Town insurance plan, $750,000 for the replacement of Beneski field, $650,000 in pavement funding, $100,000 in youth services programming and a $100,000 down payment towards the planned purchase of a new tanker truck for the fire department.
The proposed budget is made up of BOE expenditures of $36,460,660 and BOS expenditures of $17,478,968, increases of $559,637 and $324,598, respectively. Debt service represents $2.3 million and the board increased capital spending in the proposed budget to over $4.5 million, which includes some of the items noted above as well as $485,000 towards the Quarry Road Bridge replacement and approximately $800,000 in various school improvements. The budget also includes a transfer of $550,000 to the Town’s cemetery fund with the intent to have the fund provide annual revenues to adequately maintain cemetery properties that are in need of overdue upkeep. 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.