Recommended Town Budget Increases Taxes 1.6 Percent
In a joint meeting between the Board of Selectmen, School Committee and Appropriation Committee last night, Town Manager Norman Khumalo presented a budget that would keep the town underneath the 2.5 percent tax increase limit.
What’s more important for Hopkinton, to raise taxes while keeping a reserve or to spend the reserve and not raise taxes for one year?
This was a question Brian Herr and other members of the Board of the Selectmen discussed at the Feb. 28 joint meeting on the fiscal year 2013 budget.
As presented by Town Manager Norman Khumalo, the budget for next year would increase taxes by about 1.6 percent, which is about $1.15 million, a similar amount to what the town has in a reserve account.
“We’re looking at a 1.6 percent increase right now, which is good but I’d like to get that down to 0.0,” Herr said.
Temporary Finance Director Suzanne Marchand said that while short term not raising taxes and using the money is a great solution, it would mean a much larger tax increase next year, potentially up to five percent.
“My recommendation is to level that tax impact out year to year,” Marchand said.
The other argument for keeping the reserve account is that it is tied in to the town’s credit rating that was upgraded in 2010.
“When we received the upgraded bond rating they requested that we build up our stabilization,” Khumalo said.
In the presented recommendation the budget follows the requests by each town department closely.
The largest change comes in the School Committee’s budget, which is recommended at an amount $127,000 lower than the $34 million the schools requested.
“I’m very encouraged that the budget the school committee put forward and the budget that the town manager is recommending are not very far apart,” School Superintendent Jonathan Landman said.
A finalized budget will be submitted to the Appropriation Committee by mid-March, and they are planning to have a public forum to discuss the budget April 11 although the date is not yet set in stone.
Ultimately a budget will need to be approved by the town at the May town meeting.