TOWNSEND — Until Tuesday, officials thought they just might have a balanced budget.
The 2013 revenue report, generated by the Townsend Financial Team, shows expected revenues of $20,078,048 for fiscal 2016. The amount includes water income.
The fiscal 2015 budget shows revenues of $19,579,843.
When Town Administrator Andy Sheehan presented a draft of the budget about a month ago he said that about 60 percent of the budget was not yet known. State aid, insurance costs and school expenses were still up in the air.
He reminded the Board of Selectmen about the areas of uncertainty on Tuesday when he talked about the impact of the budget passed by the North Middlesex School Committee the previous night.
The original draft of the town budget included an assessment of $9,343,000 for the school district, a 4 percent increase over fiscal 2015, he said.
Instead, with changes made to the superintendent’s suggested budget by the School Committee, Sheehan said the town’s assessment will be $9,808,000.
“It creates a problem for us in terms of the budget,” he said. “We’re in the hole.”
“There’s a lot that can change,” he said. The district and the town are both working with the governor’s budget and local aid is not yet finalized.
“Typically the School Committee will always certify high,” said Chairwoman Sue Lisio. If, by some miracle, extra money comes through they want the ability to spend up to that level.
“Typically what happens is they end up cutting,” she said.
Sheehan said he had not incorporated the higher school assessment into the budget as he only got it earlier in the day.
The assessment for Nashoba Valley Technical High School will probably not change much, he said. They were voting on their budget the same night as the selectmen’s meeting and the town has fewer students enrolled.
Sheehan expects to see a 10 percent increase in health-care insurance premiums, which he said is in line with what other providers are doing.
The curbside rubbish contract should be coming in at the end of the month. The Board of Health asked for quotes on a menu of increased services, he said.
Providing a level amount of services for trash pickup will likely cost about the same as it does this year, he said, and the basic cost for curbside pickup should remain in the budget. Adding weekly recycling or toters needs to be taken separately in a warrant article at Town Meeting.
In other business:
At the beginning of the meeting Sheehan said that Kate Stacy, treasurer/collector, has given verbal notice. She said she had another opportunity and cited concerns over the politically-charged atmosphere in Town Hall in her decision to leave her position, Sheehan said. Stacy was appointed to the position earlier this year after acting as interim treasurer/collector after the previous employee retired.
The town is required to do an audit of the collector’s office when a new person takes the position. Selectmen have disagreed about when the audit needs to be done and what bonds need to be in place. Lisio requested that town counsel attend a selectmen’s meeting to discuss the process.
The selectmen agreed to do a sidewalk study for the area of Route 119 between Harbor Church and South Street. The sidewalk is planned to be part of the future Squannacook River Rail Trail. The town has money set aside that can be used for the study, Sheehan said.
Selectmen voted unanimously to deny Kinder Morgan the right to survey town-owned land. The land is on the path of the proposed Fitchburg spur, Sheehan said.
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