To the editor:
Our town’s budget is growing twice as fast as it used to. In May of 2014, town meeting passed an operating budget of $62 million. Town Manager William Keegan is hoping to pass an operating budget of $85 million come this May. In only six years, we have increased the budget by $23 million. Prior to 2014, it took the town 12 years to increase the budget by $23 million.
The town manager would like you to believe increased spending is due to town projects like the Burrell School renovation and water improvements. These projects are important and are planned for just as Mr. Keegan asserts.
However, this is not the main driver of the increase in budget. Additional employees, salary increases of 4% every year, pension and health care account for most of the $23 million increase in spending in only six years.
This $23 million increase is collected from us, the taxpayers, in higher fees, higher property taxes and higher water rates.
To say the budget increase of 5.8% is the 3.5% recommended by the board of selectmen if you ignore $2 million in debt payments is ridiculous. This is like you or I saying “I live within my means if I ignore my mortgage payment.” Or if your kid tells you “I made the honor roll if you ignore the F I got in math.”
In order to keep the increase at 3.5% as requested by selectmen, the additional debt should have been considered first, then a decision could be made on what to do with any funds that remain. You don’t just ignore the added debt and increase the budget by 5.8%.
I disagree with the town manager when he says Foxboro “does not spend money beyond its means.”
When you spend more than you bring in and have to take from free cash to make up the difference, then you are overspending. Our free cash has gone from $8.3 million in 2018 to $6.3 million in 2019 to $4.7 million in 2020. What happens when there is no free cash left?
We cannot afford to keep expanding town government with more employees. Every year we add an average of six new positions. Given the added expenses this year with the Burrell School renovation and water improvements, I agree with Selectwoman Leah Gibson when she asked “Is this the right year to be looking at six or seven new positions?”
If we continue to add more employees and spend at the current rate, in six years we will be looking at a budget of over $116 million. Let’s show some fiscal discipline this year and stop expanding town government with additional employees.
Susan Dring Foxboro