The FY22 proposed budget is based on current revenue and expense projections and a balanced understanding of Blandford’s municipal service needs with careful consideration of post COVID recovery for Blandford residents. Following a year of COVID related challenges at the state level combined with the state’s own economic challenges, this continues to limit net local aid growth. We can expect a level funded amount of local aid for FY22 as we received in FY21. Additionally, we saw minor shortfalls in our local receipts but we look forward to address without any major impact due to our conservative budget approach during our budget planning for this fiscal year anticipating possible shortfalls.
The budget presented for FY22 is yet again another conservative budget that focused carefully on post COVID recovery for households and therefore does not dip into the 2.5% tax levy increase, and does not propose a Proposition 2.5 Override. The Finance Committee relied on a combination of conservative budget controls, creative budgeting solutions, and moderate favorable growth in local revenues to develop a balanced budget with no service reductions in FY22, and were able to make necessary adjustments in areas that are in need.
Our planning began in October in which the administration sent clear instructions to the departments to do their best to level fund and if they anticipate any increases, to be prepared to explain clearly why. The intent was to be sure that both the departments and the administration including the Finance Committee take a hard look at how we are spending tax payer resources and put together an honest balanced budget. Additionally, the administration and the Finance Committee were further challenged by the Town Administrator to put together a budget that reflects FY19, FY20, FY21 levels which was roughly between $3.4 to $3,990,670.15 (not including any special transfers from other sources). It was a rather difficult endeavor indeed, nevertheless we have been able to get close to the FY21 level and achieved a balance budget by making adjustments in areas where necessary and maximizing on new growth estimates.
• FY22 Budget Summary Report
• FY22 Anticipated Revenue Summary
• FY22 Proposed Budget
• FY22 Expense Pie Graph
• FY22 Water Budget – Revenue and Expenditure
• FY22 Annual Town Meeting Warrant – June 21, 2021
Of significant importance to point out regarding revenues, you’ll notice below new growth estimates for FY22 at $200,458. Of this, $180,034 is from two solar PILOT payments we can expect and also $20,424 is from tax valuation.
|Previous Year Levy Limit||$3,084,017.00||$3,184,498.00|
|Add: 2-1/2% Tax Levy Increase||$77,100.00||$79,612.00|
|Add: New Growth||$23,381.00||$200,458.00|
|New Levy Limit||$3,184,498.00||$3,464,568.00|
|Add: Debt Exclusion||$84,705.00||$84,000.00|
|Maximum Allowable Levy||$3,269,203.00||$3,548,568.00|
|Less: Surplus Levy||-$136,628.88||$(214,612.00)|
|Less: State Assessments||$(9,124.00)||$(9,124.00)|
|NET STATE RECEIPTS||$204,504.00||$204,504.00|
|NET BUDGET RECEIPTS||$3,990,670.15||$4,191,965.85|
The Finance Committee also included in the budget strategic investments for the Town in stabilization accounts, reserve account, and capital projects – important budgeting tools to provide greater flexibility for the town to invest in its capital infrastructure and respond to unforeseen circumstances and emergencies. Reserves were budgeted through appropriation at 1% of the total anticipated budget which was identified as a best practice through the Massachusetts Division of Local Services. Reserves are controlled by the Finance Committee and typically funds unforeseen and unbudgeted circumstances. Investments for capital projects and stabilization accounts were from what was available in free cash. This includes:
Proposed Free Cash Transfer Requests
(The Massachusetts Department of Revenue certified $554,328.00 of free cash)
|Article 9 - Emergency Stabilization||$100,000|
|Article 10 - Library Stabilization||$25,000|
|Article 11 - Road Debt Principal Payment (total debt = $499,999)||$100,000|
|Article 8 - Class A Uniforms for members of Fire Department||$7,000|
|Article 8 - UTV for Fire Department||$30,000|
|Article 8 - Ash Tree Project||$20,000|
|Article 8 - Shaker Repair at Library||$10,000|
|Article 8 - Uncommitted capital to fund capital, infrastructure, and planning needs as necessary||$100,000|
|Article 8 - SCADA Project for Water Department||$120,000|
Existing Stabilization Balances not including proposed transfers above:
|Library Building Stabilization||$100,000|
|Municipal Light Stabilization||$74,030.07|
Proposed Operating Budget
Keeping in mind post COVID recovery efforts of Blandford residents, the goal was to put together a proposed budget that does not add new taxes. To achieve this, we made sure the proposed budget does not breach the parameters of what’s available in existing revenue sources, including new growth of $200,458 but not including the 2.5 tax levy increase and no proposition 2.5 override.
|Health & Human Services||$97,946.07||$132,104.00|
|Culture & Recreation||$92,073.08||$91,273.08|
|State & Other Assessments||$203.95||$214.26|
The Finance Committee met with all town departments and committees to consider how to best allocate our limited resources. The Finance Committee worked with departments to understand service needs and updated their targeted budget amount based on latest information from new growth values, state aid, and the town’s share of the school budget for FY22 – so that the Finance Committee is working with the most accurate fiscal picture. After evaluating all contractual obligations and requests and how it compared to our target mark of anticipated revenue, the Finance Committee recommended a 2.25% compensation increase for all town employees. As for board stipends and board positions with no stipends, it was agreed to recommend no increases until a conclusion and recommendations are realized from the recently formed Compensation Study Advisory committee who are actively looking into identifying options that are fair and equitable for everyone.
In regards to the schools, the school district presented two budgets – an alternative and the statutory. Currently reflected in the proposed budget is the alternative which is a 0% increase from FY21. In order for the alternative budget to take effect, each of the 6 towns that sustain the regional district will have to pass in support of the alternative budget. If one or more towns deny the alternative budget, we are to expect to fund the statutory budget which is an 8.51% decrease from FY21 which is $140,108 less than the alternative budget.
The omnibus budget in Article 7 reflects implementation of the funding guidelines and alternative assessment for the school district along with support for a limited number of service expansions. Among the proposed service expansions from what we have done in the past includes a 45% increase ($34,508) for Board of Health/Transfer Station services and $13,316 increase for Cemetery Services. The Board of Health increase has to do with changes on how we fund capital maintenance at the transfer station facility and also scaling the Board of Health Administrative position to an appropriate hourly wage rather than the current stipend arrangement for this critical role. As for the Cemetery Services, traditionally for many years the Town has been able to pay the maintenance crew of the cemetery from an existing trust fund account. The trust fund is now limited and in order to cultivate what’s left, the proposed budget absorbs the cost to sustain the maintenance needed for the cemetery grounds.
The Finance Committee is indebted to the many dedicated and talented town employees and volunteers whose efforts make this process and report possible, especially considering the challenges caused having gone through a pandemic. We would like to commend the departments for their spirit of cooperation in formulating this budget. Their continued efforts on behalf of the town are greatly appreciated.