NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 17, 2014

As revenues increase, balanced budget will go to Town Meeting

Proposed FY15 budget is $1 million more than this year

SALISBURY — The frigid, snowy winter, as well as overages related to veterans benefits and police overtime, are presenting challenges to this year’s operating budget. But with revenues picking up, town officials will have a balanced budget for next year to present to Town Meeting next month.

According to finance director Andrew Gould, last year Town Meeting approved a $20,065,266 town operating budget for this fiscal year that ends on June 30. The budget included the money needed to run the town, as well as pay the town’s education assessments from Triton Regional School District and Whittier Vocational Technical Regional High School.

But the town’s in a $100,000 hole due to the amount it had to spend to keep the roads and buildings clear of snow and ice this winter. In addition, veterans benefits are up about $40,000, and the police department’s overtime budget is in the red by about $50,000.

Gould thinks that the money needed to cover the police overtime can be found within the current budget. A transfer of monies from one line item to another to handle that problem will be a warrant question Town Meeting will consider in May.

The ability to do that is because revenues are coming in a bit stronger this year, Gould said.

“Revenue from building permits is up, much of that due to some big projects in town,” he said. “And motor vehicle excise tax is way up.”

In addition, he said, after Town Meeting agreed in October to adopt the local .75 percent option on meals tax, which began in January, Salisbury will realize about $10,000 a month in new revenues from meals sold in town.

“Revenues are picking up. They aren’t great, but they are picking up,” he said.

According to state law, the only two line items municipalities are allowed to overspend are the snow and veterans benefits budgets. But the money must be made up. That can happen by finding money within the budget that can be transferred, adding the overages to the next fiscal year’s budget or taking overages out of free cash — money left unspent from the prior year’s budget.

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