Town Manager Thomas E. Coyle III presented a $59.8 million budget to the Town Council on Monday that calls for a tax increase of 2.16 percent over last year.
It’s a budget driven primarily by contractual wage increases for all but the town’s firefighters, Coyle said, with most employees getting a 3 percent raise next year.
Other increases are due to a new network administrator position being created for the IT department at a cost of $55,000, the addition of a mechanic to the Public Works department, a full-time human resources consultant and a big increase in employee benefits costs to the tune of $655,147 — an increase of 13.04 percent over last year.
Coyle said the new positions were needed for several reasons and no position was created without significant analysis, such as the new network administrator position, who will compliment the one-member IT department who “cannot keep up with the overwhelming demands for services to accommodate the entire town,” Coyle said.
That demand has increased since the merger of the Fire Department into the town, causing an increase in the use of technology by the town in day-to-day activities. The new position will liberate the department in the sense that it will be able to take on large projects at the same time everyday problems are fixed. The department is on track to receive 1,500 service calls per year — a clear sign of increasing demand, Coyle said.
“This is not a day of help here or there,” Coyle said. “We do need a full time person on board.”
The other major budget driver this year relates to capital expenditures. Coyle is proposing $707,650 is capital spending for a variety of projects, including $100,000 to finish the $250,000 Town Hall painting project ($150,000 is already set aside in reserve), $50,000 for a dehumidifier at the police station, $160,000 for a roll-off truck, $170,000 for road repairs and other smaller expenses for playground surfacing, repairs at Academy Courts, a new dispatch console and others.
The total increase in capital expenditures would increase by $126,951 over last year's budget.
Coyle is proposing an increase in the town’s appropriation to the schools to the tune of $32.4 million — an increase of $695,899 over last year.
With $2.46 million in state aid heading to the schools, the total school budget next year will be $34.6 million, bringing the total school budget increase to $931,283.
Coyle said he has continued to work closely with school officials and consolidation discussions are ongoing in the hopes of finding more cost savings and opportunities for shared services.
The budget is now in the hands of the Town Council, which will hold a series of public hearings beginning next Monday before they adopt it sometime in May and voters weigh in at the Financial Town Meeting in June.
You can view budget documents HERE.
This story provides an overview of the budget presentation but is not complete by any means. We posted a departmental breakdown of the budget after this story was first posted. In addition, a
list of all capital improvements with background information will be posted soon.