Acting Town Manager gives details on town budget

Acting Town Manager Michael Gallagher outlines the budget process at the Jan. 13 Town Council meeting. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

By Max Bowen

As work on the FY 2021 town budget continues, Acting Town Manager Michael Gallagher outlined the different fiscal components.

Gallagher said that some parts of the budget aren’t known yet, such as health insurance costs and Local Aid from the state. Between new growth and an increase in property taxes, the town will see an additional $1.5 million in revenue for the next budget cycle. While some new development is in the near future—the Shops at Emerald Square, for example—Gallagher said that the town doesn’t have any large projects on the scale of the Naval Air Base in Weymouth.

There’s no big redevelopment projects on the horizon,” said Gallagher at the Town Council meeting on Jan. 13, where the budget presentation was made.

One potential issue is the new apartment complex being built on East Street. Expected to be open in the fall, the project will have 192 units. Gallagher said it’s expected that this will add 17 children to the town’s school system. James McKenna, chairman of the School Committee, said this could be a significant cost increase if any of the new students go to charter schools—which the town pays a portion of the tuition for—or utilize Special Needs programs.

Local Aid is perhaps the greatest concern, which Gallagher said has dropped approximately $1 million over the last four fiscal years. In the last budget cycle, the town saw a sudden and unexpected decrease of $320,000 in Local Aid, which required that several planned hires be tabled.

We’re looking at minimal growth from the state, if anything,” said Gallagher.

Some future financial plans include streamlining services and offering more online bill paying options. Gallagher said a number of energy-efficiencies are being looked at, such as LED lighting and environmentally-friendly vehicles. Consolidation of departments is also being investigated. The budget will be presented to the council on Feb. 15 and a final version will be made available in April.