The Board of Finance (BOF) has completed its review of the Town’s budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2024. A Public Hearing will be held on April 26 to review the proposed budget, which is subject to change based on feedback received at that meeting. The budget will be presented at a Town Meeting for approval on May 10.
The proposed budget proposes no change to the mill rate, the fourth consecutive year of no tax increase.
The Education budget increase is due to a significant decrease in grants available to offset expenses. Taking this grant reduction into account, the Education increase was 3.05%. Also impacting the Education budget were higher special education-related expenses, a retiree medical insurance adjustment, and higher repairs and maintenance expenses. The General Government budget increase is due to higher payroll resulting in part from general wage increases, as well as higher trash removal and utility expenses.
Capital expenditures include numerous items recommended by the Advisory Commission on Capital Expenditures (ACCE) that are necessary to repair, replace, and/or improve the Town’s capital assets. The largest single item on the list is for road maintenance of $900,000. Like last year, included in capital expenditures are items funded by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that were allocated to the town. These items, totaling $2,430,162, include a new tanker truck for the Fire Department, a new bulldozer at the landfill, replacement of two playscapes at the elementary schools, irrigation of Cervione and Sullivan soccer fields, money for a possible new park on Bridge Street, and VFW repairs.
On the revenue side of the ledger, non-property tax revenues are higher primarily due to increased interest income on Town deposits. State aid is flat and has been for years.
Transfers from other funds include the previously mentioned ARPA funds ($2,580,162 and $2,100,000, in fiscal 2024 and 2023, respectively). With the proposed ARPA expenditures, we will have expended the total amount received of $4,680,162. While primarily used for capital expenditures, ARPA funds were also used to reimburse COVID-related medical claims and fund other community organizations.
Grand list growth reflected increases in all three major categories (real estate, personal property, and automobile), resulting in increased tax revenue of $817,809.
The chart below summarizes the proposed fiscal year 2024 budget compared to the current year’s budget.
While the BOF is pleased with the proposed flat mill rate of 28.61, we have also considered long-term trends and our financial position. When determining the appropriate mill rate, the BOF reviews the Town’s balance sheet, including the Undesignated fund, the Capital Non-Recurring Expense (CNRE) fund, and the Medical Insurance fund. The BOF believes these accounts are conservatively funded and support another year of no tax increase.