Closer Look at Proposed ‘25 Town Budget

by | May 21, 2024

Budget increases are largely driven by salaries, equipment maintenance and fuel

The Town Council has until June 10 to approve a budget for FY2025, which starts July 1. The budget will be on the agenda at their next meeting, on Tuesday, May 28, and a vote is possible. Town Manager Andy Nota has proposed an overall budget of $87.4 million, an increase of $3.7 million over the current year.

There is the question of what, if any, changes the Town Council might make to the proposed budget, including the school appropriation. The proposed budget offers the school district a 3.83 percent increase ($1.5 million) over the current year for a total of proposed appropriation of ​​$41,246,446. That’s well above percentage increases in recent years but $617,000 below the School Committee’s ask. If the proposed school appropriation is approved, then the School Committee will have to reconcile their budget at some point before June 30.

If the council decides it wants to make budget changes, it could look at changing the commercial and/or residential tax rates, shifting them up or down. The proposed tax rates are $15 for residential, $25 for commercial, and $45.50 for tangible or personal property (aka office furniture, etc.). That tangible rate can go no higher than $45.50. 

According to Town Manager Andy Nota, the $15 residential tax rate and limiting the increase in the commercial rate to 7 cents were both made possible by unexpectedly high increases in the all three tax rolls, but particularly in the tangible tax roll. (That roll is limited to the town’s largest businesses, including R.I. Energy and Dave’s Marketplace.) Nota said he and his staff had originally thought the residential rate would have to be in the $15.50+ range.

The Town Council got to hear from all the municipal department heads at the May 13 public hearing on the budget and they included these highlights:

  • The Town Manager’s budget of $540,334 is up $114,000 over the current year, mainly because of the addition of a purchasing agent position. 
  • The Town Clerk’s budget of $432,228 is less than $2,000 higher than current year. The office has four full-time employees.
  • The Town Solicitor of $302,670 is up modestly from $294,000 this year. 
  • The Finance Department’s budget of $885,320 is $300 less than current year. They have seven full-time employees.
  • The IT budget of $911,096 is $63,000 above this year’s budget but below where finance is projecting the FY2024 budget will actually land – $929,532. They have two people (and a lot of hardware).
  • The Planning Department budget of $439,050 is around $90,000 higher than this year due to the addition of a resiliency planner to help the town deal with changes in the climate including more intense storms and coastal flooding.
  • Under the Community Services umbrella: 
    • Senior and human services is budgeted at $338,586, up from the current $304,926.
    • Drug treatment and mental health coordinator budget line is $137,121, up $5,000 from the current year. Right now, the job formerly held by Bob Houghtaling, who died unexpectedly last December, is being handled by three contractors. Nota said they are looking to have a more permanent solution by the time the new school year begins. 
    • The parks and community resources budget is $1,437,767, up around $75,000 from this year.
  • The Police Department budget is $6,888,015, up $260,000 over this year, mainly due to compensation and benefit costs, natural gas and fuel costs.
  • The Public Works budget is $4,290,537, up $205,000 over the current year, due to compensation, a change in benefit costs, the solid waste contract, the refuse collection contract, auto parts and supplies due to an aging fleet, the cost of asphalt, and equipment maintenance.  
  • The Fire Department budget is $8,639,155, up $380,000, primarily due to compensation and benefits costs, auto parts and overall fleet maintenance, as well as fuel.
  • Capital expenses are budgeted at $1 million, up from $850,000 this year, but a lot less than the requested amount of $2.4 million. 

In addition to the School Department, the EG Free Library gets a big chunk of its funding from the town. The proposed budget gives the library $589,134, a $25,000 increase.

Other big ticket budget items include debt service for previous bonds – budgeted at $5,395,791 for next year, up around $94,000 – and the waste water fund – budgeted at $4,615,543, around $81,000 higher than this year.

The Town Council will take up the budget at their next regular meeting Tuesday, May 28. 

Read about the School budget HERE and the Town budget HERE and HERE.

Municipal budget by department 2024

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