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March 21, 2012

Salisbury begins to craft spending plan

SALISBURY — As Town Meeting approaches, town officials are working to put together the next town budget.

Members of the Warrant Advisory Committee — which acts as the town finance committee — met with Town Manager Neil Harrington and Finance Director Andrew Gould recently to get their first draft at the proposed budget for fiscal year 2013, which runs from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013.

This year, Salisbury's budget is about $19 million, about $8.9 million of which is the town's assessment to the Triton School District. Next year, major increases to expenditures will include rises in employee health insurance of 7 percent, employee pension increase of 7.7 percent, and personnel salary increases of 7.5 percent, based on the last employee contracts, Harrington said.

Triton's assessment for Salisbury is expected to rise, he said.

"The Triton assessment is up $258,955, but that is only 2.9 percent, which we should be able to manage," Harrington said.

As for revenue projections for the next budget, it's too soon to tell for sure, he said.

Gould anticipates state aid to Salisbury will probably be the same as this year, but the town's Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School assessment will be reduced about $25,000 next year due to the drop in the number of Salisbury students enrolling at the school.

That means the first draft of the FY13 budget is about $193,000 out of balance, not uncommon for a first estimate. Harrington said the budget will be in balance by the time it's presented to Town Meeting in May.

Gould said some revenues for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, have come in higher than expected. For example, parking ticket totals are about $71,000, while the budget was written with $37,000 in revenue in that account. In addition, Board of Health fees are about $36,000, when only $2,500 was in the budget. And, although it's too early to know how much motor vehicle excise tax will be coming in, the town earned $130,000 in tax title revenues, and none was budgeted.

A pleasant surprise in the expenditure category this year is the relatively snowless winter, which resulted in $44,000 left unspent in the town's snow plowing account so far, Gould said, but other unplanned expenses could still be ahead before the year comes to a close.

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