In the face of rising fixed costs and huge long-term debt, how much can someone be expected to do with an operating budget that will increase just 2.8 percent?
Apparently, quite a bit.
just having received a glowing review from the Board of Selectmen earlier this month, had more bouquets tossed his way Tuesday night when he unveiled an $89.6 million budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2013. That total includes an operating budget of $85,719,059, an increase of just $2.34 million over Fiscal Year 2012.
Montuori said his budget is based on level-funded state aid and will allow for:
- Additional staffing (1 firefighter) and overtime for the Fire Department
- Additional staffing (two officers) and overtime for the Police Department
- Additional staffing for the Library
- Expanded hours for the Senior Center (5 days a week)
- Additional operating funds for the Department of Public Works
Montuori managed to do this without tapping into $2.1 million in certified free cash, something virtually unheard of in Tewksbury budgeting.
"We didn’t want to use (free cash) as part of the operating budget and the first time we won't do that," he said. "We will use it, instead, for one-time capital expenditures."
Of that free cash, $600,000 will be used to pay off snow and ice removal debt and another $506,000 will be used to pay off the town's equipment leases, which Montuori said will save Tewksbury an estimated $175,000 per year in the operating budget.
Tsaid Montuori's proposal reflects a major, positive change in the town's budget process.
"We're using free cash differently than we have in about 10 years, by my recollection," he said. "We're in the early stages (of the budget process) and hopefully those numbers hold. In the past five or six years we haven't had many highlights."
Johnson's colleagues echoed his praise.
"I'm really impressed with this budget," "I want to commend the town manager and the new finance director."
"It's great to be up here and take a look at a budget that may not be perfect but where we're not making dramatic cuts," _
Montuori said several factors combined to help him put together a balanced budget that added positions and services during challenging financial times. He cited no raises for municipal employees, changes in how the snow and ice removal budget is handled, as well as re-shuffling and combining some positions.
He also credited newly hired Finance Director Karen Kucala for hitting the ground running as she helped tackle her first Tewksbury budget.
Some of the cost increases that had to be factored into the FY13 Budget were a 6 percent jump in health insurance costs, an increase of $190,000 in fees to Allied Waste and a 4.26 percent increase in retirement costs.
Montuori's budget proposal will now move on to the Finance Committee for discussion and public hearings. The budget proposal will be put on the town’s website this week. Hard copies will be made available for viewing at the , and