Northborough voters back school, municipal, capital budgets
By Keith Regan, Contributing Writer
?Northborough–With officials saying long-term financial planning policies are bearing fruit, Town Meeting voters April 28 approved with little to no discussion operating budgets for the town and its local and regional schools as well as $3 million in capital items.
Officials said the budget, which boosts spending on both the municipal and school side by 4 percent, will add $218 per year to the average single family homeowner's tax bill. That is the largest increase in the past five years, as recent budgets have benefitted from new commercial and residential growth.
Town Administrator John Coderre said the spending plan is a “maintenance budget” that adds no new employees but included a $500,000 payment towards the town's long-term health care costs for retirees, a $32 million obligation.
“This is one of the biggest financial issues facing municipalities and we are one of a handful of communities taking steps to address this long-term issue in our budget,” Coderre said.
Coderre said the budget also reflected work done to bring health-care costs under control, with just a 1 percent increase for fiscal year 2015, compared to one-year jumps as high as 10 percent in recent years.
In presenting the school budgets, Superintendent Charles E. Gobron said special education was a major driver of budget increases, with $170,000 in new transportation costs and $140,000 in out of district placement special education tuition costs among the biggest line-item increases in K-8 schools. The budget actually reduces the number of elementary school teachers, a reflection of declining enrollment.
Voters also backed about $3 million worth of capital items, including new vehicles for the Department of Public Works, fire and police departments and a new closed-circuit television system for the Northborough Police Station.
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