North Attleborough officials working to assess COVID-19 impacts to budget

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North Attleborough Town Hall

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

North Attleborough officials have begun planning for the potential impacts to the town budget from the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a remote meeting of the Finance Subcommittee, Town Manager Michael Borg said his staff are modeling different scenarios on how the impacts may take place. None of these have been finalized at this time, but Borg said they are examining different scenarios by which the budget may be reduced.

The one unknown is the impact as cases rise to 10 as of today,” he said on Wednesday. “We are still expecting the impacts of COVID-19 and should expect more cases in the future.”

On March 19, the town declared a State of Emergency, which allows for the application for reimbursement of any expenses incurred during the pandemic. Those expenses will need to be vetted under federal guidelines. This is similar to when the town endures a major snowstorm and declares a State of Emergency to cover additional expenses.

However, normal expenses incurred as the town conducts its day-to-day business would not qualify for reimbursement. When asked about layoffs, whether short-term or long-term, Borg said impacts to staff would become known as the situation progresses.

Any assumptions [on the budget] we made was assumed to be a fact until it was no longer true,” he said. “We are prepared to move forward.”

Town Treasurer/Collector Christopher Sweet said that hotel and meals taxes have come to a halt. There are bills before the state legislature to delay the payment of property or excise taxes by a month for this fiscal year. So, while the actual amount wouldn’t be impacted, the time of the payment would. Sweet said the town normally receives $3.2 million in excise taxes, and approximately $2 million has already been paid.

Eighty percent of the property taxes are collected through Escrow and mortgage companies,” he said. “We will get it, but we’re not sure when.”