By Elizabeth F. McNamara

The Town Council and School Committee will meet Monday in a joint session for the charter-mandated public hearing on the fiscal year 2020 budget, which must be approved by the Town Council by June 10. The meeting takes place at Swift Community Center at 7 p.m.

The proposed $62.6 million budget this year is notable for a variety of reasons: It is $664,000 lower than the current budget; it fully funds the School Committee’s $36 million budget request for the first time in more than a decade; and it puts $500,000 back in the town’s rainy day fund, after more than $2 million taken out in the past two years to cover both a large legal settlement and to fund operating expenses and it tiers the tax rate with businesses paying slightly more than homeowners.

There is a cost: For the first time since 2017, there will be a tax increase – a relatively small tax increase, but an increase. Homeowners will see a 0.9 percent increase (21 cents per $1,000 assessed value, a $23.21 tax rate) while business owners will see a 1.9 percent increase (44 cents per $1,000 assessed value).

Another highlight of the budget is the decision to pay for most capital improvements through a $2.5 million appropriation bond for the town (which needs to be approved by the Town Council at the time they vote on the budget) and a $5 million capital bond for the schools (which will go before voters in a special election this fall). That saves this operating budget more than $800,000, based on past budgets.

The meeting (find the agenda here) will give residents a chance to hear about the budget and the plans for bonding capital expenses. Residents will be able to ask questions and/or comment.


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