By Laura Hayes, Senior Community Reporter
SHREWSBURY – Shrewsbury received over a million dollars more in revenue from licenses and permits last year than it had originally budgeted for.
While a chunk of that is from the licenses and permits needed for the redevelopment of the former Edgemere Drive-In, Town Manager Kevin Mizikar told the Board of Selectmen Sept. 14, a lot of the revenue came from smaller permits.
That included “people investing in their homes, putting in pools as the pandemic focused people to their own properties,” Mizikar said.
License and permits revenue shatters record
This information was part of Mizikar’s report on the end of the 2021 fiscal year (FY), which closed out on June 30.
It touched on the local receipts budget category, which is made up of revenue from the motor vehicle and meals excise taxes, cannabis-related revenue as well as licenses and permits.
Mizikar said 2021 was the highest year on record in terms of licenses and permits revenue, massing a total of $1.833 million.
The town had anticipated receiving just over $800,000 based on trends from previous years, Mizikar said.
The second highest year was 2017, accounting for $1.414 in revenue. That was the year when permits were pulled for the Lakeway Commons development.
“It was always a moving target with the budget, and I think you hit it in a really good way by being conservative, keeping us in a very strong position,” selectman Beth Casavant told Mizikar in response to his presentation.
Opening of marijuana dispensaries generates revenue
As licenses and permits racked up revenue for the town, this was the first fiscal year in which Shrewsbury’s marijuana retailers were open.
Between excise tax revenue and the town’s host community agreements with the retailers, Shrewsbury earned $332,924.62 in revenue.
“[That] certainly exceeded budget because we didn’t anticipate any, which was the plan from this board from the beginning to allow the market to help us understand where it wants to go,” Mizikar said.
Town meets excise tax expectations despite auto industry disruptions
The largest revenue source within the local receipts budget category is motor vehicle excise taxes. Shrewsbury received $6.3 million in revenue from that source in FY 2021, which is about $270,000 over what the town had budgeted.
While vehicle sales have been impacted by COVID-19 and a severe shortage of microchips used in automobile manufacturing, Mizikar said he was pleased that the town met its budgeted amount.
In terms of the meals excise tax, Mizikar said it’s a good economic indicator. Shrewsbury exceeded that budget by about $116,000 for a total of $490,645.47.
‘We’ll have to be smart in how we budget this’
Altogether, $13.1 million in local receipts exceeded the $10.4 million Shrewsbury had budgeted for.
The spike in local receipts revenue is welcome news after officials in Shrewsbury and across the region have spent parts of the COVID-19 pandemic worried about the impacts of shutdowns and the broader economic crisis caused by the coronavirus.
“I don’t expect this to continue in future fiscal years,” Mizikar said of this year’s economic good fortune. “So, we’ll have to be smart in how we budget this.”