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03/02/2016

Municipal budget recommendation for 2016-17 would add 10 cents to tax rate

Town Manager Michael McGovern has submitted a $12.3 million municipal budget proposal for 2016-17, up nearly $500,000 over this year's municipal spending, an increase of 3.8 percent. The budget would add 10 cents, or 2.4 percent, to the current tax rate of $4.24 for municipal services.

McGovern is slated to present his budget recommendation to the Town Council on March 14. The following week, the council's finance committee will review his recommendation at public workshop sessions. [Municipal budget documents] [Budget review schedule]

The budget includes spending for Community Services - including adult and youth programs, pool, fitness center and after-school care programs - which in previous years had been considered separately. This year's municipal budget is $9.4 million, but adding this year's Community Services budget of $1.8 million brings this year's municipal budget to $11.8 million. "The budget is structured as if the community service budget was part of the budget last year.  Thus, every one reviewing this document can compare apples to apples," McGovern said in his March 1, 2016 budget message to the Town Council.

Personnel costs account for bulk of the increase

More than a third of the $443,668 increase - $149,564, - is related to personnel costs, McGovern said. The budget proposal provides for a 2.5-percent average wage increase, and a 7-percent increase in health-insurance premiums. "It also includes providing for one Community Services professional to work full time on seniors’ issues and programs and to then have an administrative assistant move from half time to full time to fill in the gaps as a result of the seniors’ position now being dedicated as full time," McGovern said.

Personnel related costs in total are about $6 million, or 49 percent of the total budget, McGovern said.

A smaller but still significant chunk - $94,828, or 21 percent - of the proposed budget increase is attributed to debt service principal and interest. The budget includes $141,000 in new principal expense from borrowing for the Recycling Center, and for humidity-control improvements at the Richards Pool.

McGovern attributed additional increases to stone-wall and tennis-court repair at Fort Williams Park, $48,000; removal of an old fire-alarm cable, $34,000; contributions to the Rescue Fund to help pay for 24/7 coverage, $30,000; increased building operations costs, including additional custodial services, for maintaining the new Thomas Memorial Library, $16,000; and, increases in various waste-disposal and recycling fees, $15,000.

Revenues

Revenue from sources other than property tax is slated to increase $201,251 or 4.2 percent, which includes $120,000 more in excise tax than the budget for the current year. "Residents have been buying newer motor vehicles and thus monthly collections have been improving," McGovern said.

Also, additional property valuation from new construction is expected to provide about $60,000 in new tax revenue, McGovern said. The amount to be collected from property tax is budgeted at $7,305,888, 3.4 percent more than last year.

Capital spending

The budget proposal includes a little over $1 million in capital spending, with the largest chunk, $445,000, slated for roadway and drainage improvements. Other major capital expenditures include $175,000 to replace a dump/plow truck; $96,000 for improvements to the Town Hall building; $80,000 for replacement of the water-rescue boat; and, $65,000 for operating system and other computer upgrades.

Review schedule

The Finance Committee, a committee of the whole Town Council, will review McGovern's budget proposal at public workshop sessions beginning this month. All begin at 7 p.m. in the William H. Jordan Conference Room at Town Hall [directions]:

Finance Committee Review of Accounts 100, 200, 400, 500, 600-635, 710  Monday, March 21, 2016
Finance Committee Review of Municipal 300 and 640-670 and Special Funds  Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Regular Town Council Meeting Including Opportunity for Budget Public Comments  Monday, April 11, 2016
Finance Committee School Budget Presentation  from School Board 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Finance Committee Wrapup (if needed) Wednesday, April 27, 2016