By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Northborough – Town Administrator John Coderre provided an update on a preliminary FY20 budget to the Board of Selectmen at their Feb. 25 meeting. The driving factors of the $66 million budget, a 3.4-percent increase from FY19, includes an estimated 1 percent increase in state aid, new growth estimate of $30 million, level local receipts, and an increase in Northborough student enrollment at Algonquin Regional High School.
The board will hold a joint budget hearing with the Appropriations Committee Monday, March 25, in advance of Annual Town Meeting Monday, April 22. Budget reviews will continue in the interim.
The Town Meeting Warrant is expected to contain 40 articles which are still under development. Of note are a couple of citizen petition articles relevant to a plastic bag ban and reduced Styrofoam use.
Coderre reviewed the town’s primary goals and objectives which include: 1) to protect and improve the town’s overall financial condition; 2) to develop a budget that is in conformance with the town’s comprehensive financial policies; 3) to maintain Northborough as an affordable place to live and operate a business; and 4) to protect the town’s long-run solvency.
Coderre said that all models assume a 1 percent increase in state aid. The governor’s budget in FY19 was a .77-percent increase. He thinks the 1 percent assumption is safe for FY20.
“It’s important to always recognize when you are making budget decisions and you are looking at long-term implications of these decisions, to always be cognizant of what kind of organization you are. Are you high growth or you mature and declining, are you plateauing? We are a maturing organization and our overall growth is leveling off,” Coderre said.
Outstanding budget elements that are still in play as the budget develops include collective bargaining agreements that are set to expire on June 30, job classifications which include compensation and benefits, and the town’s solid waste contract which could increase the budget with an additional $200,000.
A glimmer of good news that Coderre shared was a 0-percent rate increase to the municipal health insurance contract for FY20. However, the line item in the budget will increase by 2-percent to allow for administrative costs.
The biggest tax impact to the town is the shifting enrollment at Algonquin Regional High School. More Northborough students and fewer Southborough students results in a higher assessment for the town to absorb. The impact to the budget is 8.38 percent.
“I could not be happier or say enough about the way the superintendent and the School Committee have acted responsibly to the global town of Northborough organization,” Coderre said.
Selectman Jason Perreault thanked Coderre and his staff, School Superintendent Christine Johnson and the School Committee for their work.