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Selectmen hold joint public hearing to present operating budget for FY2018

By Melanie Petrucci, Contributing Writer

 

Northborough – Elaine Kelly, Appropriations Committee chair, called the joint public hearing with the Board of Selectmen to order at the selectmen’s March 27 meeting. Town Administrator John Coderre presented the town’s FY2018 operating budget in advance of the Monday, April 24, Town Meeting.

The presentation began with a level budget overview, revealing no significant changes to current services, modest revenue projections with limited state aid and new growth and continued focus on long-run financial planning including unfunded liabilities and infrastructure investment. Health insurance, pension and OPEB (Other Post Employment Liability) greatly affect budget decisions.

Coderre listed the primary goals for the FY2018 budget which include: 1) protect and improve the town’s overall financial condition; 2) develop a budget that is in conformance with the town’s comprehensive financial policies; 3) maintain Northborough as an affordable place to live and operate a business; and 4) protect the town’s long-run solvency.

FY2018 will see an increase of 4.4 percent in tax revenue receipts, free cash at a half million dollars, level local receipts such as fees, permits, excise tax, licenses and fines and an increase of 1.6 percent in state aid has slowly returned to a level not seen since 2003.

Coderre reported, “Unfortunately what you are seeing statewide is pressure again on the local tax base. This has been a trend that we’ve been looking at for the last nine years. One and a half percent is better than zero, but it doesn’t keep pace with the rate of inflation, not to mention our energy and health insurance costs.”

Northborough will see a 2.78-percent increase in the general operating budgets. This includes the municipal operations, schools, free cash, stabilization, debt servicing and transfer to OPEB.

All FY2018 collective bargaining agreements settled for 2 percent and total personnel is up by 1.2 full-time employees. Health insurance premiums for all active and retired town employees including the schools is contained within the municipal operating budget and will see a sharp increase going into FY2018.

Coderre praised School Superintendent Christine Johnson as they negotiated to bring their budget to reasonably work with the rising healthcare cost situation.

“When that health insurance budget started to spike, we reached out and worked with the superintendent and the school committee and I am very impressed with their level of collaboration and cooperation,” he said.

The current health insurance premium renewals came in much higher than expected with a 12-percent increase. Health insurance is currently budgeted at an 8.3-percent increase, so negotiations are ongoing with the town employees to bridge the gap. The Insurance Advisory Committee is working diligently and Coderre is “cautiously optimistic” that they will get these numbers down in time for Town Meeting.

The FY2018 estimated tax impact on the average single family home valued at $408,144 is estimated at $230. This is an estimate based on current values and values are increasing.

Selectmen were positive about the presentation, Selectmen Jeff Amberson noting “It’s a conservative budget, but it’s sustainable.”

Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=84778

Posted by on Mar 31 2017. Filed under Byline Stories, Northborough, Region. 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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