By Elizabeth F. McNamara
This post has been edited since it originally posted.
Town Manager Gayle Corrigan’s proposed $63.1 million budget for fiscal year 2019 calls for a 2.3 percent tax increase as well as a $500,000 increase for the schools, roughly $800,000 less than the School Committee asked for.
The budget was released late Tuesday, May 1 – find it here.
In a brief text exchange, Corrigan said the tax increase was “just shy of 4%” but the figures in her budget do not reflect that. In an email response to a question about the discrepancy, Corrigan wrote, “There are additional assumption such as the collection rate (not every bill the Town sends out is paid in the fiscal year) that lowers the 4% increase.”
She offered no further clarification, saying she would not meet to explain the agenda until after the meeting with the Town Council Monday night. The proposed budget is on the agenda.
As for the allocation for schools – $34.5 million – School Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Mark expressed her dismay.
“I was profoundly disappointed with what the town manager has proposed,” said Carolyn Mark. “It’s a huge gap between what we need and what she’s proposed. Especially since we share a finance director right now who really understands the school department budget, her proposal is not reflective of what our needs are.”
The budget includes $1.2 million for firefighter overtime, a significant increase over current overtime, but a figure Corrigan has repeatedly said would be necessary next year.
Bond payments decrease by $466,000 next year from $6.31 million to $5.85 million, but capital spending would nearly double, from $588,000 to $1.08 million.
Corrigan has lowered the total amount of money the town would receive from the state meals tax from $748,659 to $725,000. Meals tax revenue has increased over the past three years. The budget also has state reimbursement for the car tax phase out at $225,000, down nearly $50,000 from 2018.
Salaries for the department of the town manager are up $69,000 – from $229,000 to $298,000.
Under the proposed budget, the EG Chamber of Commerce would again receive $15,000 while the EG Cemetery Commission’s budget is cut from $3,000 this year to zero.
The budget for current year spending shows a projected deficit of $436,240.
The public hearing on the budget, with both the Town Council and the School Committee, will be held Monday, May 14, at Swift Community Center.
* That percentage was calculated using the figures offered in the budget. Corrigan, in a text, said the tax increase was closer to 4 percent. No further explanation was forthcoming.
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