WINCHESTER - Town Meeting this week passed a budget in excess of $128M for FY20 (for a complete budget breakdown, see sidebar on page A2 of Wednesday's edition of the Daily Times Chronicle). $6.7M of the approved override will be used in FY20, as will $367,630 of Free Cash. (The remaining override amount will be spent over the next several fiscal years.)
Aaron Kutylo, Chair of the Finance Committee, spoke about some of the budget drivers including snow and ice, which is in line with the five-year average, although the town is allowed to overspend without Town Meeting approval and legal expenses, as the town spent $100,000 for outside legal counsel bills, a 6.7 percent increase for this year and FY20.
The budget as a whole came in lower than originally communicated, Kutylo noted. He added how, for the Capital Planning Committee, the override money will be split 80/20 with the most going to the Capital Stabilization Fund and the remaining amount to the Building Stabilization Funds.
As for the departments, most every one will see an increase for FY20: police 8.55 percent, fire .43 percent, DPW, 2.2 percent, and Council on Aging 19.24 percent. Other increases include health insurance 4.05 percent (below normal), contributory retirement 6.58 percent, OPEB 75 percent, and medicare tax 2.6 percent.
The school department also sees an increase to its budget, though less than they initially wanted or the Town Manager suggested (however, it’s something they agreed to, Kutylo said). Town Meeting approved a 7.8 percent increase or almost $4M. Most of the increase concerns salary adjustments (3.94 percent) and special education funding (.95 percent or $476,000).
Kutylo said both the Water & Sewer Enterprise Fund and the Recreation Enterprise Fund will be level-funded. Capital, in addition to the influx of new money, will see a energy rebate of $30,000. Town Meeting also, in a separate article, approved funding Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) $350,000, which Kutylo called a “standard appropriation,” though well-below the annual recommended contribution of $3M or more.
In all, revenue is up 5.15 percent (thanks mostly to the override passed in March) and the town’s use of Free Cash is less than recent years, which brings the total reserve number to 10.28 percent (this also includes the $1M from Winning Farm) or $190,000 more than FY19.