By Beth David, Editor
Fairhaven Town Administrator Mark Rees submitted a recommended budget of $48.9 million for Fiscal Year 2019 to the Selectboard, a 2.11% increase from last year’s budget.
Mr. Rees said the only major change is the addition of a full time Conservation Agent/Sustainability Officer. The annual salary of the position will be $75,000 when fully funded. For this year, $50,000 has been budgeted because the position will not be filled until the fall when Building Inspector/Conservation Agent Wayne Fostin retires.
Free cash for FY19 was certified at $4,194,238. The budget puts $1,957,420 in reserve; uses about $1 million for FY19 projects, and puts about $840,000 into the capital stabilization fund, which is used for one-time capital projects, such as vehicles and large maintenance projects.
The budget meets the Selectboard’s strategic goals, including maintaining a general stabilization fund of at least 5% of the general fund operating budget. The balance of the stabilization fund as of 12/31/17 was $2,950,272 or 6% of the FY19 recommended budget.
The recommended budget is structurally balanced, meaning it does not use one-time money for ongoing expenses.
Revenues include an increase of more than $210,000 in state aid; local receipts and wind turbine revenue are also increasing this year, to the tune of nearly $1.5 million, or 3.16% over last year. The budget projects that the wind turbines will result in $100,000 in electricity revenue for FY19, a conservative estimate. In FY17, the WTs provided $118,287 in electricity revenue or the town; so far in FY18, which ends in June, the turbines have generated $98,318 in revenue as of 1/28/18, leading to a projection of $168,545 for FY18 total.
The Police Department asked for an additional police officer and more hours for their custodian, which were not included in the recommended budget. The Fire Department asked for two additional firefighters/EMTs, which were also not included.
The PD budget increased by 4.2%, mostly because of salary increases negotiated by the union.
In his request for the additional officer Police Chief Michael Myers said that last year the department promoted an officer but did not fill the patrol position. The department left one School Resource Officer position vacant, putting additional pressure on the one SRO left, wrote the chief.
The Fire Department budget includes a 4.5% increase mostly due to collective bargaining agreement, but also includes some other costs in this year’s budget, including $32,000 for equipment.
The School Department budget is funded at the requested level of $22,379,839, a $604,143 increase, or 2.77% over last year’s budget of $21,775,696
Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) projects include $143,191 for the second year of lease payments for a 963 Loader in the public works department. After that payment, the town will own the vehicle.
CIP spending for this year also includes $505,000 to upgrade to fiber optics for town departments; $350,000 for roadwork; $252,000 for the Rogers School building, which includes money to mothball the building and hire a consultant to help the town secure grants; $283,000 for the Fairhaven High School Gymnasium Dehumidification Project; $200,000 to replace the HVAC system in the Senior/Recreation center building.
Total CIP projects for this year total $2,258,191, with $1,054,191 coming from free cash and the rest from other sources, which include $216,000 from the overlay surplus fund, $275,00 in grants, and $713,000 in borrowed funds.
The Selectboard will discuss the budget at its next meeting. Both the Selectboard and the Finance Committee will make their recommendations on the budget to Town Meeting, which ultimately has the final say in how money is spent.
Both the FY19 recommended budget and the Capital Improvement Budget are available on the town’s website: https://www.fairhaven-ma.gov/documents-and-contracts
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