NORTH ATTLEBORO — Acting Town Manager Michael Gallagher gave members of the town council and school committee an update on the town’s finances Monday night in advance of a preliminary budget he will submit to the council next month.
The manager’s “state of the town” presentation is required before Jan. 15 as part of the annual budget policy detailed in the charter approved by voters in April. The change to a manager/council form of government took effect July 1.
The information is used by town departments as they prepare their budgets for the new fiscal year.
“I can tell you that we are tracking on both the receipts side and the expense side to where I would anticipate being,” Gallagher said.
He projected property taxes will rise by more than $2 million, an increase of 3.31 percent. The number was calculated using the maximum of 2.5 percent allowed by law plus minimal anticipated new growth.
Another possible increase may be excise taxes. The details of how many new vehicles residents purchased in 2019 will be released by the state in February.
Gallagher told the boards that he is concerned about net state aid, which has decreased by approximately $1 million over the past four years.
While he expects a slight rise in revenue, there are also expense items that will increase. Gallagher explained that he anticipates spending $320,000 more in health and life insurance.
“I had a conversation today with one of our brokers and we’re looking at somewhere between 5.5 and 6 percent increase in the cost of our health insurance for fiscal year 2021,” Gallagher said.
The amount the town budgets for pensions is also expected to increase by $200,000.
The town may be able to save additional money by streamlining service delivery with the implementation of online permitting and consolidation of functions.
One of the goals the councilors set for Gallagher before his term expires at the end of June is drafting a plan to merge the department of public works and solid waste.
School committee Chairman James McKenna asked what the impact of new apartments at 21 East St. will have on enrollment. Gallagher and School Superintendent Scott Holcomb answered that it should be insignificant.
The former L.G. Balfour Co. building was razed and construction has been moving forward on nearly 200 one- and two-bedroom apartments.
Monday’s meeting can be streamed on northtv.net.
Click the link below to view highlights of Michael Gallagher’s presentation.