In his budget message Monday to the town of Walpole, Town Administrator Michael Boynton announced a proposed budget for fiscal year 2014 of $75,199,884.
That figure is a 2.75% increase over FY '13.
Boynton said he was optimistic about the FY '14 budget and believes it is a step in the right direction for the town.
"For the first time in many years, the budget as proposed allows Town services to move into the next fiscal year without need for either reductions to our current year levels, or the need to seek additional revenues beyond the normal and customary levy increase," Boynton said.
"It is a most reasonable and prudent budget that provides sufficient resources to address immediate department needs, preserves the positive steps realized in the current year, and allows the community to move forward with the first steps toward facility upgrades in Walpole," he said.
The town is expected to see $75,930,042 in revenue, an increase of 2.80% over the current fiscal year.
Boynton said the figures could change as the Governor's budget makes its way through the House and Senate.
In his message Boynton outlined his priorities for the upcoming fiscal year which include funding for the schools, managing the increased cost of utilities, fuel and insurance, restoring health services in the area of inspections and enforcement and working to improve the town's infrastructure by repairing and replacing sidewalks.
Capital projects outlined in the budget, which will be voted on during the Spring Annual Town Meeting, include security cameras for schools and municipal buildings ($150,000), mobile testing labs for each elementary school ($119,500), replacing the town's street sweeper ($175,000), partial roof replacements at the schools, HVAC improvements at the high school and replacing a fire pumper for the Fire Department.
Those projects, if approved, would be funded by a combination of free cash, borrowing and other financing options.
Looking ahead, Boynton said that they will continue to monitor the budget at the state level and keep discussions open about facilities upgrades such as a new senior center or police station.
He said the "new norm" will be to focus on sustainability over quick fixes.
“We got $3.9 million in free cash because of unexpected revenues, a warm winter, unexpected overlay surplus this past year…but the best thing that the town of Walpole did was what we didn’t do. We didn’t take it and run out and try to spend it all and we’re not proposing to as part of this budget either,” he said.
“Trying to make sure that we do this in a multi-year approach and that it’s not spend it as you get it. We certainly have needs currently. We will address those needs currently but we’ll also make sure that we have money in the bank, so to speak, to address those unexpected occurrences,” Boynton said.
You can read Boynton's full address to the town and view the Power Point presentation given at the meeting by viewing the PDF's above.