A look at Westborough’s proposed fiscal 2025 budget

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A look at Westborough’s proposed fiscal 2025 budget
Westborough’s Town Hall is located at 34 West Main Street. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

WESTBOROUGH – The proposed municipal budget for fiscal 2025 shows an increase of nearly 5% over the 2024 fiscal year budget.

The 2025 fiscal year budget is estimated at $136,555,216, or about $6 million over last year.

Some numbers within the budget are not finalized, as the town has yet to receive information on state aid and assessments. Also, the town is still negotiating with the firefighters’ union for a new contract.

The tax rate, which was announced in late November, was set at $16.91 per thousand. For the average single-family home, the value increased to $747,327, and the tax bill went up to $12,635.

Town officials are recommending a transfer of $450,000 from Free Cash to lower the tax rate.

Here’s a closer look at some of the budget requests:

Community Center – In October, Town Meeting approved the borrowing of $8.8 million to purchase 1500 Union St. and convert it into a community center.

Estimated operating costs for the 2025 fiscal year, along with debt service ($770,000), amounts to about $1.2 million, with a tax impact of $147.84.

These costs include maintenance, utilities, a custodian, a community center manager, and a program and volunteer coordinator. The custodian is budgeted as a full-time position, while the manager is budgeted for a half-year while the Recreation Department evaluates the position’s responsibilities.

Charges for Common Area Maintenance (CAM) would not be assessed to the town until six months after closing; that could begin around Sept. 1, 2024.

Board of Health – The position of public health nurse had been funded through a regional grant program, but those funds will no longer be available come fiscal 2025. The board is requesting funding for this position for 16 hours per week – eight hours through the Board of Health, eight hours by the Council on Aging. Total cost of this request is $38,079.

Community Development – The department is requesting additional funds for conservation area stewardship – making trails and town-owned open space safer and more accessible. The funds could cover installing signs and trailheads, purchasing materials and supplies; and contracted services for tasks such as removing hazardous trees. Total cost of this request is $10,000.

Elections – The town wants to have elections funded through a regular recurring article, through which funding would come from Free Cash. 

According to the town’s budget documents, “The purpose of this action is to create stability around the funding of elections, understanding that this budget exhibits significant increases and decreases depending on the number of elections and expected Town Meetings in each fiscal year.” 

Total cost is $107,000.

Fire Department – The main requests include the addition of a firefighter/paramedic, and to move four firefighter positions to the rank of lieutenant. Total cost is $79,197 for the firefighter/paramedic; and $27,344 for adjusting the four positions to lieutenant.

Planning Department – Funds are being requested for the position of assistant planner. Main duties would include performing a variety of technical and professional work, with a focus on transportation planning. Total cost would be $36,253 (six months), plus $2,050 (travel, dues, memberships, etc.).

The annual budget summit will take place on Thursday, Jan. 25.

A complete look at the proposed budget is available via https://www.westboroughma.gov/1166/FY2025-Budget-Documents

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