NEW BOSTON – A proposed $4.4 million town operating budget and nearly $539,000 in warrant articles will go before voters at the deliberative session this evening.
During the meeting, each warrant article will be presented and discussed and amendments may be made by voters. The session takes place at 7 p.m. tonight at New Boston Central School, 15 Central School Road. The items will then be placed on the ballot for a final vote on Tuesday, March 11, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The $4,440,775 operating budget, Article 18, includes staff salaries and benefits, supplies, utilities,vehicles, maintenance and repairs to run the town departments daily operations. If the proposed budget fails to pass voter approval, the default budget will be $4,308,816, which is the same as the 2013 default.
“This year there’s been a couple of driving forces for increases to the budget,” said Peter Flynn, town administrator. “There is a 7.9 percent increased health insurance premium, and with 30 employees it’s a lot of money. The 7.9 percent translates to about $52,000 in medical insurance costs over last year. And there are pay increases of 2.3 percent for full-time employees, and 2 percent for part-timers.”
The town also added a new Highway Department employee, which over nine months of salary and benefits equals about $49,000; and a part-time employee at the clerk’s office for $5,000. Another proposal is partially painting Town Hall at a cost of $10,000. Flynn said to paint the entire building would cost $30,000.
“We’ve also expanded our technology to involve a contract company that’s going to have a base rate of $10,000 to handle our computers,” Flynn said.
Warrant articles 2 through 17 relate to zoning ordinance amendments. In addition, voters will be asked to approve several warrant articles relating to fund reserves and expenditures, including the following:
Article 19: $100,000 to be placed in the existing Fire Department Vehicle Capital Reserve Fund. That amount is based on the replacement cost of each vehicle, with $100,000 allotted to the fund each year so sufficient money is available at the time of scheduled replacement of the vehicles. The department has six trucks with a life expectancy of 15 to 30 years.
Article 20: $70,000 to be placed in the existing Highway Truck Capital Reserve Fund to cover the replacement of a small dump truck, three six-wheelers and one 10-wheel dump. A truck may be kept as a back up vehicle and used to plow snow.
Article 21: $42,500 to purchase one pre-owned, six-wheel dump truck for the Highway Department, and withdrawing $17,000 from the Highway Truck Capital Reserve Fund. The balance of $25,500 will come from encumbered funds from a warrant article approved at the 2013 town meeting. There is no 2014 tax rate impact. At the 2013 town meeting, voters approved the purchase of two pre-owned dump trucks of up to $68,000, but only one truck was available.
Article 22: $50,000 to be placed in the existing Highway Heavy Equipment Capital Reserve Fund to replace a loader, grader and backhoe on a 12 to 15 year replacement cycle.
Article 23: $85,000 toward improvements on Old Coach Road. This appropriation will not lapse until the project is completed or until Dec. 31, 2019, whichever comes first. This is an ongoing repairs project on Old Coach Road from Greenfield Road toward the ball park.
Article 24: $40,000 to be added to the existing Town Bridge Repair/Replacement Capital Reserve Fund toward the town’s capital improvement plan, and for long-term bridge repair and replacement projects. To avoid a spike in appropriation for some years, the CIP Committee spread out this Capital Reserve funding.
Article 25: $20,000 to be added to the Revaluation Capital Reserve Fund to be used for the 2016 town-wide revaluation, which is required every five years per state law. To alleviate a large appropriation request of $80,000 for the scheduled update, funding will be raised in annual increments.
Article 26: $45,000 to be added to the Town Hall Renovation Capital Reserve Fund for the next phase of the project, including completing improvements of the basement and a newer, more efficient heating unit with insulation and plumbing.
Article 27: $84,000 toward the paving of the transfer station property. The amount will come from a fund balance with no amount to be raised through taxes.
Article 28: $2,500 to create an expendable trust fund to offset the cost of police detail coverage incurred by New Boston nonprofits’ public events in town. The selectmen will be named as agents to spend the money and any unspent funds may be carried over from year to year.