That includes $39.7 million for schools, $500,000 less than the district sought
Town Manager Andy Nota’ proposed $82.2 million budget for fiscal year 2024 represents a $4 million increase over the current year budget. There are a number of reasons for the increase, including higher pension and health insurance costs, higher costs for energy and basic supplies, and the 3 percent salary hikes for nearly all employees, town and school alike, following contract negotiations last year. As Nota characterized the pay raises, they were a necessary increase that nonetheless present a budgeting challenge.
“Some of the contractual commitments, although supported, represent impediments to successfully and quickly navigating through this period of economic variability,” he wrote in the opening pages of the 193-page document.
The School Committee approved a $47 million budget in March, including a request for a $40.2 million allocation from the town, a 3.75 percent increase over the current year. Nota’s budget gives the schools a $39.7 million allocation, which is a 2.46 percent increase over the current year ($953,859). That leaves the school budget $500,000 in the red.
What does this budget proposal mean for property taxes? We don’t have the information quite yet. Since the town separated residential, commercial, and commercial personal property tax rates four years ago, there are more variables. But with a $4 million overall budget increase, a tax increase seems certain.
The Town Council has until June 10 to approve a budget, which will go into effect July 1. They will hear a formal presentation of the budget on Thursday, May 4, at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers at Town Hall (find the agenda and Zoom link HERE). There will be a public hearing on the budget on Monday, May 8, and a joint session between the Town Council and the School Committee Monday, May 15. Other meetings could follow, if needed.
FYI, the town has a new website for community engagement. You can find the budget page HERE.