Northborough selectmen hear 2012 budget update

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By Seth Stutman Community Reporter

Northborough – During a brief meeting Feb. 28, the selectmen finalized the solid waste contracts and discussed initial stages of the fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget.

Town Administrator John Coderre presented an update on the preliminary FY 2012 budget. The budget will become clearer in March, with a full presentation Monday, March 14 and a public hearing Monday, March 28, he said.

“We do finally have some more significant pieces of the budget pie,” he added.

With that, Coderre presented rough estimates for four of Northborough's biggest budgetary items: Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS), Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School (AVRTHS), Northborough's K-8 schools and government.

Costs for AVRTHS will decrease 24 percent or $163,348, based principally on enrollment. “Because the assessment is down, that's freeing up resources for [other areas],” Coderre said.

Northborough's K-8 schools arefacinga4percentincrease based on higher attendance and budgetary needs. However, these rising costs can be offset by other educational cuts. At Algonquin, a 1.57 percent increase in attendance means that the school's budget will only increase by .5 percent.

Lastly, the government budget willfacea4percentincreasedue to uncertainty in health care costs and a rise in debt services. Health insurance numbers are still coming in, but Coderre predicted that the increase will remain in the single digits. Moreover, with the cost of the Senior Center kicking in, debt services are likely to go up more than $600,000. Even with these two increases, Coderre had a positive outlook.

“I believe that we will be able to survive under the 4 percent increase…” he said, “without layoff s or reductions in services.”

While still waiting for final figures and other items to be totaled up, Coderre felt that the town's budget will be successful and can again be a recipient of the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.

“Based on the information we have right now,” he said, “I feel confident that we will be able to work even with that increase in debt service.”

Years of planning and months of discussion culminated in the board approving a solid waste contract with Central Mass. Disposal of Auburn. After sifting through offers from five companies, the board accepted a bid that will cost less while providing the town with the same services. The five-year contract will not increase based on fuel costs and the town is satisfied with Central Mass. Disposal's track record in towns such as Ludlow, Paxton and Sterling, as well as the company's four decades in the business.

In other matters, Selectman Leslie Rutan congratulated the ARHS girls gymnastics team, which recently won the state championship for the first time in 17 years.

“They could do very well in the years to come,” she added.

At the Northborough Senior Center, a group is still raising money to build a patio by selling personalized bricks. For $100, one can lay a personalized brick inscribed with a message on the outdoor patio. The Senior Center is also beginning a pool league and is looking for members.