By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor
Northborough – Voters approved the town's annual municipal budget, the budgets for the different schools that service the town and several capital improvement projects at the Annual Town Meeting held at Algonquin Regional High School April 23.
Town Administrator John Coderre opened the meeting with a short presentation on the town's overall municipal budget. Although the $16.98 million requested for fiscal year (FY) 2013 took into account a 4.24 percent increase over FY2012, it was still within the confines of Proposition 2 ½, he said. And in spite of tax receipts increasing, particularly due to the AvalonBay and Northborough Crossing developments, assessments from the state would result in the town's budget being level-funded, he noted.
With the requested budget, the town would be able to maintain core services, Coderre said, invest in equipment, facilities and infrastructure and minimize the tax impact on residents.
Several residents spoke against approving the budget.
“Zero increase or reduce our taxes – that's the relief we need,” James Lee, Lincoln Street said.
The budget ultimately passed.
The town's public schools budgets also passed after presentations by Dr. Charles Gobron, who serves as superintendent of schools for the Northborough Public Schools and the Northborough-Southborough Regional School District.
Several factors, including the ending of federal stimulus funds, he noted, presented a budget challenge for FY2013. The rising costs of adhering to special education mandates, both on the state and federal level, also significantly impacted the budgets, he added. The FY2013 budget accounted for the hire of 11 positions related to special education; seven of those were aides that were previously funded by federal stimulus grants.
The voters approved $19.5 million for the Northborough Public Schools and $9.39 million for the Northborough-Southborough Regional School District. They also approved $656,645 for the town's share of the assessment for the Assabet Valley Regional Vocational School District.
Several capital improvement projects were approved as well, including $350,000 for a new fire tanker truck and $85,000 for new radio equipment that the town is mandated by the Federal Communications Commission to purchase and install by January 1, 2013. This equipment will be used by the Fire Department, Police Department and Department of Public Works, according to Coderre.
The voters also approved $1.15 million for repairs at the Town Offices Building. $802,000 of that will come from “repurposed” funds, which Coderre explained were funds not utilized on previously approved projects. The remaining balance of the funds for the repairs will come from Community Preservation Act funds.