WINCHESTER - At the most recent Select Board meeting back in early March, the board received an update to the FY20 budget through Jan. 31.

In a memo provided by Town Comptroller Stacie Ward, she mentioned revenue and expenditures, plus gave an update on the town’s two enterprise funds: water & sewer and recreation.

General Fund Revenue

Ward wrote property tax revenue is meeting expectations at this time. She added how it’s important to note that the town anticipated using $6.7M of the $10M override to balance the FY21 budget, but only used $6,243,677. This means the tax levy, local receipts, state aid, debt exclusions, and final budget needs for FY20 were reconciled after fall Town Meeting resulting “favorably” in a $450,000 decrease in the tax levy.

Motor vehicle & boat excise is low compared to the budget at this point in the fiscal year due to the fact that the first FY20 commitment won’t be processed until February or March. In comparison to this time last year, the revenue is a bit low, but Ward wrote the first FY20 commitment is $3,115,385 which is about three percent higher than the first FY19 commitment. She added additional FY19 commitments totaled $640,000.

PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) revenue is the late FY19 payment from Winchester Hospital (received in August). Ward wrote that the agreements are in the process of being negotiated beyond this year.

Miscellaneous non-recurring revenue consists of state reimbursements for overtime for shared services. In FY19, this included the one-time Winning Farm developer’s payment.

Indirects from the Enterprise Fund are posted quarterly up front; therefore, 75 percent of the indirects have been processed as of Jan. 31.

General Fund Expenditures

Salary budgets are less than 58 percent spent, which Ward noted is to be expected through January, and everything appears on target minus the snow & ice budget and legal costs. She alerted department heads to notify her (and/or the Town Manager’s Office) if any budget issues arise during the year.

Some budgets, however, will be spent more than the expected 58 percent due in some cases to health insurance and worker’s compensation, which now gets paid several months up front.

Ward mentioned some changes related to votes taken at Town Meeting relating to debt service (interest decrease and BAN pay down which is a transfer to the high school capital project fund) and an increase across several departments for changes in telephone costs as a result of upgrading to a VOIP system.

The Finance Committee made one $70,000 Reserve Fund transfer for the legal budget so far in FY20. The town is allowed to overspend the snow & ice budget, so any deficit associated with snow & ice will be presented to spring Town Meeting for funding versus a Reserve Fund transfer.

Subsidies to the Enterprise Fund are posted quarterly up front; therefore, 75 percent of the subsidies have been processed as of Jan. 31.

Water & Sewer Enterprise Fund

Ward pointed out how there will be a revenue shortage in FY20. Payroll and expenses are on target, she said, but recommended freezing them as much as possible in order to close the year in the black. Even though there was a rate increase voted to go into effect in FY20, the issue relates more to consumption this year.

She said fall Town Meeting addressed the issue, but this was only a short-term solution.

“In preparation of the FY21 budget it was even more evident that the costs are rising at an unsustainable rate and can no longer be supported without another substantial rate increase or a new stormwater fee (or both).”

Town Manager Lisa Wong, at the board’s last meeting, discussed raising the service charge fee to help cover the shortfall in retained earnings, plus increasing rates by 11 percent for FY21.

Recreation Enterprise Fund

Ward stated this fund appears to be operating as planned. She also mentioned how the town continues to search for a permanent Recreation Director after former director Chris Nelson retired last fall.

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