NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 8, 2013

Blais proposes $16.75M budget for Newbury

Town administrator also brainstormed ideas for new revenue

(Continued)

Technology upgrades for the library will cost $12,500; there is a slight reduction in funding for the Council on Aging due to grant offsets; and the town is exploring the possibility of regionalizing veterans’ services, Blais noted.

Overall, she anticipates a .5 to 1 percent increase in educational funding as compared to a 1.7 percent increase in town-side spending. Blais called the Triton Regional School District budget “a thoughtful, modest increase” but noted that the town would likely be negatively impacted by how the state is proposing to distribute education aid in its own spending plan for the upcoming year. The number of students attending Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School next year will double to a total of 14.

Blais anticipates $400,000 in new growth, of which $92,000 comes from new construction.

“That’s a lot for us. There is a lot of new building on the horizon.”

On the other hand, local receipts — from items such as motor vehicle excise tax, building fees, fines and forfeits fees — dropped from $1,905,043 in 2011 to $1,844, 366 in 2012, and are projected to fall even further to $1,469,500 in 2014.

An estimated 51 percent spike in available funds is in large part due to the massive effort in the finance department this past year to collect delinquent property taxes. Any properties with back taxes that remain unpaid have liens filed on them or are in foreclosure process, she said.

Blais took time during her presentation to brainstorm possible ways to generate new revenue beyond tax increases. The town should continue looking for opportunities to regionalize some local services. Exploring solar and wind initiatives and promoting recycling as a way to decrease refuse tonnage were also discussed.

Other ideas included continuing to encourage voluntary payments in lieu of taxes from nonprofit entities that benefit from town services, pursuing utility rebate programs and imposing host community fees.

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