Marlborough City Council votes to increase budget, raise taxes in 2012
By Justin Saglio
Marlborough – The average Marlborough household will see an estimated tax increase of $225 for fiscal year (FY) 2012 after the City Council voted to increase the budget by 2.8 percent at its meeting May 23.
Amid projections of the salaries of municipal workers increasing from FY 2011 and the city taking on debt from the construction of the Westerly Wastewater Treatment Plant, increasing demand is being placed on the city's budget. Adjustments have been made in order to ensure these needs are met, according to Councilor at-Large Michael Ossing, who is in charge of the Finance Committee.
“The increases are due to salary adjustments, cost of gas, cost of electricity, just the increased cost of doing business,” Ossing said.
According to Ossing, three factors influence a budget – money raised by taxing local businesses, finances provided by the state, and income from taxing residents. In Marlborough, an increased demand of city funds from 2011 to 2012 places increased burden on the taxpayers.
“There is no additional money coming in from the state so any increase in the budget is coming right out of the pockets of the taxpayers,” Ossing said.
The final amount of $123.5 million, proposed by the Finance Committee and passed by the council, was almost $1.5 million lower than the budget proposed by Mayor Nancy Stevens. Reductions the committee made included cuts to the budgets of Marlborough schools, the Economic Development Corporation, and to the Department of Public Works.
All Finance Committee meetings about the budget, which totaled over 18 hours, were televised to Marlborough residents.
“They liked it,” Ossing said, “or at least they weren's dissatisfied. This was the first public hearing on the budget in over 12 years when no one from the public came to speak or ask questions.”
“Out of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, we are rated number 3 for investment,” Ossing said. “We are viewed as a very sound financial institution and the people think the committee is doing a good job.”
Marlborough received an “AA+” credit rating from Standard and Poor's in May, according to the organization's website.
Despite debt totaling over $70 million in Marlborough, council members expect improvements to the city to take place in upcoming years, including building a Senior Center and improvements to Memorial Beach.
“You are paying off some debt while taking on some debt; the trick is to keep that debt level stable so you'se not increasing taxes,” Ossing said.
“I just want to thank Counselor Ossing for all his work,” said Ward 5 City Councilor Robert Seymour before the vote on the budget. “The Finance Committee did a fantastic job in giving us and the taxpayers a fair estimate of what we are in for.”
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