Town Council approves $105.8 million budget

Town Manager Michael Borg. File photo

The Town Council has approved an operational budget worth $105.8 million for the Fiscal Year 2024.

Months of meetings and reviews ended on June 12 as the council voted 6-0 to fund the hiring of new staff, invest in several capital improvement projects for schools and maintain operations at the town’s departments. Councilors Darius Gregory, Kathleen Prescott, and Patrick Reynolds were not at the meeting.

Town Manager Michael Borg and Subcommittee on Finance Chairman John Simmons, who worked together to finalize the budget, spoke highly of the work that went into the final budget.

“I am very pleased with both the budget and the process it takes to get to this point,” Simmons said. “The budget is built on conservative estimates for receipts and growth and realistic expenses on the other side.”

The budget calls for the hiring of four new police officers, two part-time assistants for Animal Control, a full-time school joint facilities director, and a full-time resident services representative.  A total of $15.8 million will go towards capital improvement projects, including replacing the old boiler at the Falls Elementary School, a PFAS filtration system for the town wells, fixing the lights at Community Field, and purchasing a new roof for Amvet Elementary School.

The budget also cuts out the insurance broker fee for the town, allowing direct negotiations with the insurance company for town employees.

“We reduced our costs by millions because we saved the insurance agent commission,” Councilor Mark Gould said. “Since North Attleborough has many employees, we dilute the risk and take advantage of economies of scale.”

The price of the budget marks a $3.75 million, or 3.67% increase in spending from the last fiscal year. The budget consists of $70 million from the town’s tax levy and $25 million from state aid.

Borg said the amount of money received from the state has remained almost unchanged compared to last year. State funding for education under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 70 and roads under Massachusetts Law Chapter 90 are allocated through a formula set up by the Massachusetts legislature.

Schools did receive an additional boost of funding compared to last year, but Borg said more could be done to fund the town’s schools.

He has asked state Sen Paul Feeney (D-Foxboro) and state Rep. Adam Scanlon (D-North Attleborough) to change the formula.

“I hope this can be changed,” he said. “Let’s get more funding.”

The passing of the budget was not without a reaction from some town members.

During a public hearing on June 7, resident Dick Kieltyka spoke in opposition to funding certain projects and told the council that those who spoke with him said the budget funded “special interests” rather than taxpayers.

“North Attleborough’s taxpaying residents have confided to me that the reason they don’t show up to vote is that they feel the fix is in,” Kieltyka said. “As everything has already been decided by North Attleborough town leaders and special interest groups.”

John Donahue, who serves on the Bylaw Subcommittee and Charter Commission spoke in support of the budget a week later and pushed back on the claims made by Kieltkyka. He said the projects funded in the budget, such as the roof replacement, were necessary for the town’s infrastructure.

“They’re using buckets right now to catch rain in our schools,” Donahue said.  “We have to protect our assets in town to protect our building.”

Kieltyka did not offer a response to Donahue’s comments.