Phillipston begins look at next fiscal year

  • FLYNN Contributed photo

  • Phillipston Town Hall in Phillipston. Paul Franz

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 1/19/2021 3:29:04 PM
Modified: 1/19/2021 3:29:02 PM

PHILLIPSTON — Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Flynn last week updated members of the Selectboard and Finance Committee on the revenue Phillipston will likely have to work with as officials cobble together a municipal budget for FY22.

Flynn began by explaining the exact wording needed for a Prop. 2½ underride question that will go before Phillipston voters. The question asks residents to “reduce the amount of personal and property taxes to be assessed for the new fiscal year … by an amount equal to $97,763.”

Flynn explained that the amount is slightly more than the amount approved when voters OKed a Prop. 2½ override in order to fund the Narragansett Regional School District budget recommended by the district School Committee for FY20, which began July 1, 2019. At that time, voters said “yes” to an override of just over $93,000. However, because Templeton voters shot down their share of the same override, which would have cost the town approximately $988,000.

“The $97,763 is more than the original amount voted,” Flynn explained, “and the assessors gave us that number after they went over it, and after Sue went over it. Because the original number was $93,053 and it’s been there two years, that’s two years of 2½ percent growth on that number. So, that’s why it seems to be a bit higher. In other words, it’s adjusted for the annual 2½ percent increase.”

The underride is handled in the same fashion as an override, needing voter approval both at town meeting and a subsequent ballot question.

In response to a question, Flynn added that the amount provided in the underride is not money that will be put back into the budget — “This is to reduce the amount of money that the town can raise through property taxes.”

The Selectboard voted to approve the wording of the ballot question recommended by Flynn.

Flynn later presented the two municipal boards with revenue projections for the approaching fiscal year.

Flynn explained that monies collected through property taxes for FY22 will be about $29,000 higher than for the current fiscal year, adjusted for the reduction provided for by the underride. In all, Flynn projects a total of $3,776,000 will come from property taxes. The figure includes an overall 2½ percent increase, plus a projected increase of one percent in certified new growth.

“Generally, any growth is the Prop. 2½ annual increase,” said Flynn. “Most of our revenue comes from our real estate taxes and personal property taxes. We don’t have a big industrial base, we don’t have much of a commercial base. So, it’s just the 2½ percent we get our money from.”

Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the state budget, Flynn has reduced likely state aid for FY22 by 15 percent, to $240,000, about $26,000 less than the current year.

He also estimates that local receipts from a variety of sources — including motor vehicle excise taxes, licenses and permits, fees, and investment income — will remain relatively flat, with a decrease of about $2,000.

“When we get to the end of the year,” he said, “we’ll take a look at those local receipt numbers to see how close we are — if there need to be any adjustments. But, for the moment, that’s where we are at this point.”

Flynn said he’s asking department heads for a level services budget for FY22.

“I will also be telling them, ‘Please don’t put anything in for salaries.’ But I plan to ask for a substantial adjustment in wages, because last year we did a no-increase in wages for employees.

“We appreciate that, but this year I plan to ask for a substantial increase in wages to make up for last year, and also an increase for this year. I think we can afford that, and I think we owe it to our employees.”

Flynn said he would be asking department heads to complete a narrative to accompany their budget requests for FY22, tentatively consisting of four questions. He said he wants to know about major successes or problems in each department during the current year, the status of any projects funded through special town meeting articles, whether special articles will be submitted to town meeting in order to fund any new or additional projects, and anything — including funds — that might help streamline or improve department efficiency.

Flynn said he hopes to schedule a Selectboard workshop to begin laying out plans for FY22. The Finance Committee will also soon begin deliberating budget requests and recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year.


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