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Proposed Northborough budget adds firefighter, police officer, roadwork funds

By Keith Regan, Contributing Writer

Northborough—Town Administrator John Coderre presented the Board of Selectmen and the Advisory Finance Committee a $60.6 million budget for fiscal year 2017 that basically keeps services at current levels, slightly increases staffing at the fire and police departments in accordance with a staffing study and sets aside $300,000 in free cash to keep the town’s pavement management plan on track after state funding cuts.

The expected impact from the budget is $272 more in the tax bill of the average single family home, which is worth $398,960—through Coderre cautioned that home values are also on the rise.

Of the increase, $55 is directly attributable to the debt service on the soon-to-be-completed Lincoln Street School project.

Overall, the operating budget increases 3.5 percent from this year’s levels in both the municipal government and K-8 schools. The town’s assessment to the Algonquin Regional High School is growing almost 7 percent, due to higher enrollments from the town.

“This is basically a level service budget,” Coderre said.

One exception is the phased implementation of a public service staffing study, with a new officer and a new firefighter/paramedic being added halfway through the fiscal year. The town is on track to meet most of the recommendations of that study, including having five firefighter/paramedics per shift, by fiscal year 2018.

“That is probably the most exciting piece of the budget,” Coderre said.

Selectmen Chair Jeff Amberson noted that the budget overall is “getting tighter,” with new growth approximately level with last year at $30 million, a third of the amount the town saw for some years as the massive Northborough Crossing project first came on line.

“It’s definitely not as easy as when we had $90 million in new growth,” he said. “I appreciate the conservative approach.”

Other highlights of the budget include a 3 percent increase in health insurance costs, something Coderre said was made possible through extensive collaborative negotiations with the town’s employee unions to redesign health care plans. Longer-term, he said, higher health costs remain a risk and are the “biggest single factor in our being able to maintain services.”

The budget sets aside $300,000 in free cash to keep the town’s pavement management plan—which calls for investing $1.1 million on roadways annually. Those funds will make up for a reduction in Chapter 90 state funds.

Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=72851

Posted by on Mar 31 2016. Filed under Byline Stories, Northborough, This Just In. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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