WEST NEWBURY — Voters gather at 7 p.m. in the Town Annex Monday to take up an annual warrant that includes a proposed $13 million operating budget.
Finance Director Warren Sproul reported that there is a general increase of 5 percent year over year in the entire budget. It consists of a 1.9 percent increase on the town side and an 8.1 percent on the education side. He added that financing for Phase II of the Page Elementary School Renovation project is a factor in the hike on spending for education next year.
The budget assumes “a very modest” amount of new growth revenues and level funding in state aid. Selectmen are proposing a 2 percent increase in salary for the town’s non-contractual employees, similar to what contractual employees are receiving.
An additional police officer is funded within the budget at $55,584.40. Adjustments were made elsewhere in the police salary and expense line items to moderate the cost for the new position, Sproul reported.
“We maintain a strong position of free cash, contribute to other post employment benefits, and fund capital expenditures via a healthy Stabilization Account,” the Finance Committee states in its Appropriations booklet.
Going into the annual meeting the town has $1.46 million in its free cash account, but if all the proposed articles that tap free cash are passed, that balance drops to $913,000.
The Stabilization Account shows a balance of $810,000 to be used for large capital improvements. And there is $1.51 million in the Community Preservation Account for expenditures on open space, affordable housing, historic preservation and recreation.
A majority of selectmen and the Finance Committee are recommending voters approve all requests on the annual warrant except one bylaw change — an amendment to the Zoning By-law Site Plan Review that selectmen felt was “overregulation.”
The Finance Committee also disapproved of a proposal by the Energy Advisory Committee to adopt the Board of Building Regulations and Standards Stretch Code. Selectmen Chairman Bert Knowles Jr. also voted no, but his colleagues Glenn Kemper and Dick Cushing agreed it should be left to the will-of-the-town.