Town manager Robert Lee and Superintendent of Schools presented the collective budget total during the meeting of the town council last Monday and a public hearing followed on Thursday, March 5. Town staff has proposed a $63,114,393 budget for 2020-21, an increase of 2.16% over the current budget, and now it’s up to Plainville voters.
If voters approve the budget during the referendum to be held on Tuesday, April 28, it would increase the tax rate by almost 2% (0.68 mills), which would need to increase the mill rate to 35.3. According to information from the assessor’s office, the average home value in Plainville is about $196,038, making the average tax increase about $94 to the average homeowner.
The increase is in line with recent passed budgets. For the current 2019-20 budget, taxpayers approved a 2.3% tax rate increase. Although the 2018-19 increase was 3.55%, that was due to mid-year tax cuts from the state. For the 2017-18 budget, voters approved a 2.16% tax rate increase.
The proposed $63 million budget is divided into four major categories—the Board of Education, town government, capital projects, and debt service. The BOE’s proposed budget of $39,227,677 is an increase of 2.61% and would make up a little more than 62% of the proposed FY21 budget. The town government budget would be just under 30% of the budget at $18,656,366. This year, the general fund contribution to the capital projects budget would stay the same at $800,000, and debt service would decrease by 6.42%.
Some of the major drivers of the general government increase include payroll, which Lee said is due mostly to employee increases of 2.25%. “Most of that is driven by union contracts; we do have employees under the union contracts that are on step increases as well,” he said. “We do have some employees that have left us and replaced them with lower entry level positions, so that has some impact as well.”
In addition to those increases, the proposal also calls for approximately $41,000 for part time firefighters, a need that has been discussed at recent town meetings. Recycling costs will be another driver. The current budget estimated the cost of recycled material at $40 per ton, but the town is paying about $87 per ton of recycled material.
The driving force behind the BOE increase was contractual obligations, which make up 2.54% of the total 2.61% increase.
“Our objective is to align resources, procurement, and allocation to our district vision and strategic plan goals to build and sustain programs that inspire, prepare, and engage in support of our students, teaching, and learning,” said LePage. “And of course, efficiently meet the needs of all Plainville students while being mindful limited funding and taxpayer impact.”
At the March 5 public hearing, three Plainville students—Suomia Dode (Class of 2015), her cousins Eleshba Nadeem and Ahsan Nadeem, Middle School of Plainville eighth and seventh graders respectively—spoke in favor of the proposed budget. The trio asked that the BOE budget remain intact in order to continue to offer varying experiences to all Plainville students.
“I want the budgets to be the same because I really like all of the privileges and all of the stuff we have offered in the school for better education,” said Eleshba Nadeem. “ I would not like that to be changed or reduced.”
The town council held four budget workshops this past week in council chambers, with three additional workshops scheduled for Tuesday, March 17, Wednesday, March 18, and Thursday, March 19. All three workshops will begin at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers.
By the time this story went to press, it was not yet determined whether the three additional workshops would be necessary. For those who are unable to attend the workshops, all of them were filmed by NutmegTV and can be found at www.NutmegTV.org.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at News@PlainvilleObserver.com.