Virtual Town Meeting date set, budget takes shape

Apr 26, 2021

For the second year in a row, the annual Spring Town meeting will be held online.

The decision was made at a virtual Select Board meeting on April 26.

While the budget is still getting finalized, Town Administrator Shawn MacInnes said that the town has “prepared a balanced budget” for the virtual meeting on June 1.

The main increases, he said, include $22,000 for additional truck drivers for Parks and Recreation, staffing changes in the Health Department, and a $35,000 to Veteran’s Services office. 

“With that increase, about 75% of that gets reimbursed back to the town from the state, so really not a $35,000 increase,” MacInnes noted. “For FY22, there’s some increases, but nothing to increase the budget overall.”

There will also be an increase in building permit fees that will go toward hiring a new full-time building inspector. Conservation Agent hours will also go up for a pay of $20,000, but MacInnes said that would come out of Conservation Commission receipts.

The school department is also looking to hire three new positions as part of its proposed $47.3 million budget.

Earlier this year, town officials requested that departments look into making a hypothetical 10% budget cut scenario in anticipation of economic woes caused by the pandemic. But the cuts were no longer necessary after the state announced it would not cut state aid, along with the federal government’s passage of the American Rescue Plan in March.

Director of Budget and Finance Greg Barnes anticipates that the town will get a minimum of $3.3 million in stimulus funding that will have to be spent by 2024.

The proposed budget will also include $8,583,362 capital plan for big ticket projects like improving the Padanaram Bridge, road maintenance, new police vehicles, and building repairs at Jones Park. 

Many projects are entirely funded by surplus revenue and funds generated by the town department undertaking the project. 

Finance Committee Chair Teresa Hamm said that while it’s still an ongoing process, the committee “generally supports the Spring Town Meeting warrant proposal.”

Hamm added that the budget should be finalized on May 6.