By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Town Manager Kevin Mizikar shared his first FY 2021 projections with the Board of Selectmen at its Feb. 11 meeting.
“We are really fortunate this year in the internal budget development process with all departments and we look forward to also rolling out by early next week our new budgeting tool … that will enable residents to be able to take a deeper dive into our budget proposal than ever before,” Mizikar said.
The budgeting tool, called ClearGov, is a financial transparency and benchmarking platform for local government. It’s a $20,000 value, free of charge for the first two years, compliments of the town’s receipt of the Community Compact Grant and has already resulted in efficiencies as the budget has been developed.
Mizikar further noted that this budget process has been more challenging than anticipated due to unrestricted and restricted revenues, outsourced activities with some contracts outpacing the cost to perform them internally, and transitioning the capital investment funding model.
“The overall financial position of the town is very strong as it has always been,” he said.
Free cash is the highest it has ever been at $8,631,981. Mizikar projects that after Town Meeting it will be near $6 million. Stabilization is growing which will alleviate the heavy reliance on Free Cash and is projected to be over $3 million. These trends have contributed to a AAA Bond rating.
Total revenue for FHY2021 is projected to be $148,946,189 which is up by 4.55 percent over FY2020. However, there are restrictions on $51,673,832 which presents challenges.
“We are really limited across the general operating accounts of the town to the $2.5 million or 2.66 percent year every year…” he continued.
Projected general municipal operations for FY2021 come in at $71,116,310 which is $5,568,276 or 8.49 percent greater than FY2020. The school department projections are $67,668,322, only 2.06 percent higher. Conversely, utilities capital improvement plan projections are reduced by $239,011 at $4,203,549 and other expenditures likewise at $5,958,008 reflecting a reduction of $217,950 or 3.52 percent.
Mizikar said that this is not where the School Department wants to be and a huge driver of the budget is the cost of health care.
Details of the municipal and school department budget will continue to evolve. The timeline going forward includes monthly budget hearings with the Finance Committee prior to Town Meeting that begin Monday, May 18, at 7 p.m. at Oak Middle School Auditorium, 45 Oak St.
For more information, visit https://shrewsburyma.gov/149/Town-Manager.
In other business, the board discussed the establishment of the Beal RFP (Request for Proposals) Selection Committee. at their Feb. 11 meeting. This is the next phase of the Beal Reuse process. The town will be issuing an RFP to developers for the disposition of the land.
Assistant Town Manager Kristen Las informed the board that they had created a Beal Reuse Committee to explore potential uses of the site located at 1 Maple Ave.
“In 2018 into 2019 we were awarded a grant through MassDevelopment to study the Beal site specifically and the Town Center in general about how the public views that area and how they’d like to see that area enhanced in the future,” she explained. “Out of that we then applied through MassDevelopment for a grant to help us prepare a Request for Proposal to dispose of the site…”
The town was awarded the grant and is working with the Providence-based Horsley Witten Group that recommended that a committee be formed to help guide the RFP development and to review proposals once they start to come in later in the summer and early fall.
She suggested that the current Beal Reuse Committee continue as the RFP Committee because they have the most knowledge of that site already.
The board approved the motion.