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Fiscal '21 manager's budget could change at Town Meeting

UPDATED, April 2:  The fiscal 2021 budget is a document the town manager’s office has been working on for several months. 

Finance image

The recommended appropriation figures have been reviewed and approved by the Finance Committee. Given the uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 issue, leaders will continue to monitor the town's financial condition and may make changes to this budget at Town Meeting in June. 

The budget is online. Read it here >>

The Public Annual Financial Report (PAFR) is a brief, four-page report that provides a snapshot of the town’s basic financial condition and trends. It also contains summarized financial schedules and tables.

A physical copy of the PAFR will be included in the quarterly water bills, which will be mailed out on April 6. You may view the PAFR now at arlingtonma.gov/budget

Fiscal '21 town budget aims to boost DPW, school officer, librarian, records

As the public got its first look at the manager's fiscal 2021 budget at the Monday, Jan. 27, Select Board meeting, they saw that the plan arrives with some key initiatives: 

• More public-works staff, with the addition of a permit engineer and a systems innovation manager;

• A second school resource officer, to serve middle and elementary schools;

• A full-time librarian for the Fox Branch; and

• Changing the town's public-information officer/webmaster to full time and adding part-time staff to respond to public-records requests.

Here are the proposed, general budget numbers; specifics will be presented to the Finance Committee:

Budget overview -- revenue

 

FY2020

FY2021

Change

 %

Property Tax

133,350,155

137,117,472

3,767,317

2.8%

Local Receipts

9,871,000

9,971,000

100,000

1.0%

State Aid

22,481,187

23,120,921

639,734

2.8%

School Construction Aid

476,523

476,523

-

0.0%

Free Cash

5,559,782

5,901,388

341,606

6.1%

Other Funds

200,000

200,000

-

0.0%

Override Stabilization
Fund

-

2,061,265

2,061,265

-

TOTAL TAXES, FEES, AID AND OTHER 

SOURCES

171,938,647

178,848,569

6,909,922

4.0%

Transfers in (Offsets)

2,580,233

2,640,236

60,003

2.3%

TOTAL REVENUES

$174,518,880

$181,488,805

$6,969,925

4.0%

Budget overview -- expenditures 

FY2020

FY2021

Change

 %

Departments Appropriations

39,718,054

40,761,310

1,043,256

2.6%

Offsets, Indirect Costs

(2,580,233)

(2,640,236)

(60,003)

2.3%

Departments (taxation total)

37,137,821

38,121,074

983,253

2.6%

School Department

71,427,139

76,030,531

4,603,392

6.4%

Minuteman School

5,384,690

6,532,053

1,147,363

21.3%

Nondepartmental
(health care, pensions)

29,247,782

31,217,722

1,969,940

6.7%

Capital (includes debt service)

13,196,044

13,400,912

204,868

1.6%

MWRA Debt Shift

5,593,112

5,593,112

-

0.0%

Warrant Articles

1,186,867

1,299,022

112,155

9.4%

Reserve Fund, Elections

1,604,584

1,726,724

122,140

7.6%

Override Stabilization
Fund Deposit

2,174,510

-

-

-

TOTAL
EXPENDITURES

$166,952,549

$173,921,150

$6,968,601

4.2%

Nonappropriated Expenses

4,986,098

4,927,419

(58,679)

-1.2%

Surplus / (Deficit)

-

-

-

-

Changing numbers expected

In his presentation, Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine noted that some of the numbers are expected to change. One is the expected amount from the state, based on Governor Baker's most recent budget plan. He also noted that the schools received "significantly more" Chapter 70 funding than in the preceding year and that he expects to include funds for Bluebikes, the ride-sharing company that is expected to replace LimeBikes after its contracts ends this spring.

Select Board Chair Diane Mahon said she agrees with paying for a full-time information officer and asked whether the town can better anticipate the impact of public-record requests.

"Wide-ranging requests’ can get quite expensive," Chapdelaine said.

Board member Steve DeCourcey wondered whether the clerk's office could help with records requests.

Goals for process

With the budget, Chapdelaine listed goals guiding the spending plan, under the heading "Maintaining Board’s Override Commitments," saying it maintains the board's commitment:

• In exercising fiscal discipline while maintaining quality municipal services;

• To respond to ongoing school enrollment pressures;

• To Building Arlington’s Future; and

• To keeping a 5-percent financial reserve for the duration of the four-year plan.

• In addition, actions separate from this budget but already undertaken have maintained the board’s commitment to minimizing the impact of last year’s override and debt exclusion on taxpayers, particularly seniors and those with income challenges.

Under the heading "Long-Term Outlook" are these points:

• The 2019 override (fiscal 2020) projects to last through fiscal 2023;

• The town continues investing in long-term liabilities (pension and OPEB);

• The continued monitoring of enrollment trends; and

• The continued state advocacy for new and varied revenue sources.

Next steps

The next steps for the proposed budget are:

• A long-range planning meeting is scheduled for Feb. 5;

• Hearings with Finance Committee begin Feb. 5;

• Local-aid numbers are to be updated following discussion with the Long-Range Planning Committee;

• Group Insurance Commission rates are set by March 1;

• Figures updated in coordination with Finance Committee in preparation for Town Meeting

Quarterly report

In a related agenda item, Deputy Town Manager Sandy Pooler presented a quarterly budget report by Comptroller Ida Cody, who was absent.

This report presents expenditure and revenue figures through the second quarter of fiscal 2020 for the general fund and the five enterprise funds. Here are some selected examples:

"• Comptroller: Expended 60% of budget. This extra spending is due to previously encumbered funds for the Munis project that were expended and encumbered in FY2020.

"• Department of Public Works: Expended 70%. The department encumbered the full amount of the trash collection and disposal contracts.

"• Finance Committee: Expended 28% of budget. Most Finance Committee expenses occur at during and after Annual Town Meeting."

During discussion, Pooler noted that the budget of the Arlington Youth Consultation Center is "up against" its appropriation cap. Board members noted that this reflects that the center is addressing real needs among town youth and that administrators should find ways to pay for more of those needs.

Read the complete report here >> 

The board voted, 5-0, to receive the report.

Further information about the Jan. 27 Select Board meeting will be reported.


All town budget data


This news summary was published Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, and updated April 2, based on information from the town website.

 

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