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Town Manager Sandy Pooler presented Arlington’s preliminary fiscal 2024 budget at the Select Board’s Feb. 6 meeting, which predicts that Arlington will have a $2.6 million deficit in the next fiscal year. “If that deficit stays in place, it may mean that an override may be required this spring," Pooler said.

Proposed for the general fund is $206,253,646, an increase of $8,501,122 (4.30%) from the current budget. Download the preliminary budget plan here >>

However, in trying to mitigate this budget adjustment, Pooler presented a scenario under which the town wouldn’t need an override. “We don’t have the numbers yet." He said the Long-Range Planning committee is to meet Friday, Feb. 17, "and we’ll will know more then.”

Select Board logo, 2019

Budget expectations known, unknown

Currently, long-range committee members know that the town budget will increase by 3.5 percent, school budget 5.3 percent, capital spending 5 percent, pension assessment 5.7 percent and ARPA funds will allocate $357,092 for various one-time positions.

However, the following increases are currently unknown and/or uncertain: Minuteman High School assessment ($992,958 or 12.5 percent), health insurance (3.95 percent), state aid (2.94 percent), state assessments (2.94 percent) and offsets (1.78 percent).

In trying to head off an override this year, Pooler presented a scenario under which it could be avoided. “All these number will change once we see the state budget; they’re just snapshots in time,” he said.

Gov. Healy's proposed budget is expected by March 1, but could be announced sooner, Pooler has said earlier.

Pooler said that the following factors this year and next would affect whether Arlington needs an override this spring:

  • New growth of $1 million for fiscal 2024: He expects to know more about this as the year goes along. The number appears to be in line with what the town's new growth has been the last few years, so he said the number is not unreasonable; and
  • 7.1 percent increase in Chapter 78, or for new construction. That would give the town about $1.2 million, similar to the amount received for the current year, fiscal 2023.
Town enterprise funds

The fiscal 2024 budget presentation also says that: 

  • Water/sewer rates are expected tare expected to pay the debt for the new Department of Public Works’ building. 
  • The Recreation Department is to have a 16.89 percent increase, because more activities are now offered, along with the skating rink’s 6.77-percent increase. 
  • Transportation rates are to decrease by 34.47 percent, because services were eliminated for one town staffer, but the level of services will remain same.
  • The Arlington Youth Counseling Center is to have an 11.3-percent increase because more staffers are being hired.
Board approves 5-percent retiree cost-of-living adjustment 

The board unanimously approved a 5-percent cost-of-living adjustment for Town of Arlington retirees.

Town Counsel Doug Heim said that legislation signed by the governor gives the Select Board the authority to approve or disapprove a cost-of-living adjustment for fiscal 2023 up to 5 percent for all town employees who have retired.

“The local option that provides for these increases by the retirement board was essentially amended to make sure that the Select Board can vote on and approve it as well," he said. "The retirement board first has to approve it, which they already did.”

Read the agenda document >> 

Board approves $190,000 sewer-bond sale

The board unanimously approved the sale of a 10-year, interest-free, $190,000 sewer bond dated Feb. 15, 2023, to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). This bond provides the town assistance to rehabilitate and repair the sewer infrastructure to reduce inflow and infiltration.

Interim Town Treasurer Bill Fowler said that this bond is accompanied by a $570,000 grant from the MWRA, for a total of $760,000, which was approved at last year’s Town Meeting. Former Treasurer Phyllis Marshall has retired.

Read the agenda documents here >>  

Watch the Feb. 6 meeting on ACMi:

Jan. 22, 2023: $206m town budget proposed; override decision tied to state aid

  


This news summary by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert was published Monday, Feb. 13, 2023.

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