This budget has been shaped by both local and national events. The Town of Blandford went through a period of transition with the departure of the full-time Town Administrator in September 2021. The Town’s budget process, which ideally begins in late October or early November, subsequently did not begin to advance until February 2022. Given the compressed time frame, Departments were asked to submit requests reflecting a level-funded budget and a 2.25% increase for wages and salaries.
A conservative approach to the budget was warranted by events at the national level. While economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic in the form of lockdowns and temporary shuttering of businesses have receded as of early spring 2022, the Fiscal Year 2023 budget will very much be shaped by macroeconomic trends. Concerns over inflation and disruptions to the global supply chain have been compounded by fuel and energy price increases. The result is a financial climate with a high degree of uncertainty that is best approached at the local level by building reserves and approaching larger changes to the operating budget cautiously.
Other important developments that played a role in the creation of this proposed budget include:
- Robust new growth from Payment-In-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT) agreements with solar developments that are accounted for under Personal Property Taxes
- The advent of a yearly operating budget for the Broadband Enterprise Fund
- The release of a Compensation & Classification study report on the Town with recommendations on approaches to salaries, wages, and stipends
Ultimately, the budget presented to voters at Annual Town Meeting has been balanced through restraints on service expansion, a further decrease in the School District assessment and a less conservative approach to budgeting for group insurance costs. Highlights from this budget include the proposed establishment of an Education Stabilization Fund to better account for year-to-year variation in spending on the Gateway Regional School District and use of Free Cash to build reserves, stabilization accounts and to make capital investments.
Capital spending includes needed repairs to the library, as well as funding of a feasibility study in preparation for the design of new garages for the Fire and Highway Departments. The Town is slated to undertake the development of a Capital Improvement Plan in FY23 that will establish a roadmap for investments in our biggest assets including buildings, vehicles and land.
To be updated prior to Annual Town Meeting with latest revenue projections.