BRANDON — The Select Board has approved a budget with a small increase over last year.
Town Manager David Atherton said Wednesday that the board will ask voters at Town Meeting Day to spend $3,244,020 in the next fiscal year, with $2,744,135 to be raised by taxes. He said this is $25,782 more than what taxpayers contributed last year, a 0.95% increase.
“The tax rate is probably not going to change, we had a reappraisal done this year, too,” said Atherton. “There’s a lot of variables going on.”
For the past several years, Brandon has asked voters to approve $100,000 for paving as an article separate from the budget. Atherton said it typically passes, and so it’s going before voters again.
The funds will be used to pave High Pond Road, Florence Road, and any other roads to be determined by the town highway foreman. Atherton said those two roads are sizable, and likely will use up the entire $100,000, if approved.
It took four budget workshop sessions to craft this budget, he said, as is the typical practice in recent years.
“Because we’ve done this so much, this is my ninth year with the Brandon budget, we’ve really got good numbers before we go into it,” he said. “We’re not frivolously spending anyway, so the budget process goes pretty quick now.”
The town’s budgets have failed in years past, something that happens far less now.
“We’re not starting with the best-case scenario and dwindling it down, we’re really watching the bottom line,” said Atherton.
He said the recreation budget was cut by about 17%, due to the pandemic limiting activities and potential revenues. The police budget did increase, but by far less than normal. The town is saving money, so far, on sand and salt, and its debt service also is down.
Voters will be asked to approve a $5.7 million bond to pay for upgrades to the town’s aging wastewater treatment facility. Atherton said an engineering report was undertaken two years ago. The plant is around 50 years old and in need of upgrades.
Select Board Chairman Seth Hopkins said the town won’t spend $5.7 million on the project. The amount is expected to be lower as the town will seek grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other sources.
He said the board did opt to add money to its fund balance, an unencumbered pot of money for emergencies, like when Newtown Road flooded and the town was forced to spend half a million while waiting the better part of a year for reimbursement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.