WINCHESTER - Recently, Town Comptroller Stacie Ward submitted her report highlighting the operating budget through Nov. 30, 2022.
She said the Department of Revenue certified the FY23 tax rate and estimated revenues; therefore, she noted the final estimated revenue would be in her next report. She added how the DOR’s tax rate setting/certification process estimated the revenue based on the fall Town Meeting results, actual new growth ($1.29M vs estimate of $850,000), final state aid/charges, and comparisons to FY22 actuals (local receipts).
$135,000 in miscellaneous non-recurring revenue includes $114,000 of the opioid settlement payments, of which $38,497 was received before fall Town Meeting and appropriated. Ward also noted 50 percent of the indirects from the enterprise funds have been processed as of Nov. 30.
On the expenditure side, the comptroller said salaries and expenditures are meeting expectations. She told department heads to contact her or the town manager’s office for additional funding or to request any other budgetary changes.
Ward also noted one of the fall Town Meeting articles, to increase the town clerk salaries in the amount of $17,000 and expenses in the amount of $19,000 due to the special election in January, increase the Finance Committee Reserve Fund in the amount of $25,000 (to replenish the fund for a previous transfer), decrease debt service in the amount of $200,000 in principal and $189,000 in interest (to reflect borrowings vs. estimates and funding source changes) and increase transfers to capital projects in the amount of $1.2M (for the Washington/Swanton BAN pay down), was identified and addressed.
The comptroller stated budgets would be spent more than expected due to the nature of some departmental activity. This includes the MIIA general insurance premium, which was paid in July and workers compensation, in which the town prepays a third party for claims (the revised budget includes a $315,000 encumbrance from the FY22 budget, which covers expected medical claims associated with an FY22 disability retirement).
The town also now pays its health insurance premium a month later due to changes in its health care provider who bills the town later. This means the town now pays in the same month of the coverage.
Like indirects, 50 percent of subsidies to the enterprise funds have been processed.
Speaking of enterprise funds, the water & sewer enterprise fund “appears to be operating as planned and will meet budgeted targets,” the comptroller wrote in her memo to the Select Board. She added how rate studies are “continually be(ing) performed by a consultant who recently presented an update to the Select Board.”
For the recreation enterprise fund, Ward reminded the board how fall Town Meeting voted to reduce the fund’s estimated revenue for FY23 down to FY22 levels and fill any budgetary gaps with retained earnings (as opposed to making budget cuts).
The comptroller said the town previously determined to appropriate the same level of cost activity to allow the department to expand and have the “much-needed” flexibility to add new programs, such as the basketball program, middle school programs and wrestling. She said the recreation director expects rising costs, but those should be manageable within the current budget.
The department is also stretched pretty thin, the rec. director said, but fall Town Meeting approved a the hiring of a recreation supervisor, which should help.