Town Manager Paul Bockelman releases FY 19 Budget
Amherst Town Manager Paul Bockelman released his FY19 municipal budget to the Select Board and Finance Committee at a joint session. The budget describes his plan for the year beginning July 1, 2018.
The $23,844,470 budget maintains core services with some modest adjustments. No additional staff positions are proposed. Departmental budgets all accommodate increased expenses for health benefits and negotiated contracted salary adjustments.
“This is a conservative budget that will provide the needed services to our residents,” said Town Manager Paul Bockelman. “Strong revenues provide the resources we will need to address the increased cost of health insurance.”
- The budget maintains levels of service for all departments as currently provided.
- The budget limits the increase in overall property taxes to 2 ½ %
- Other sources of revenue (new growth and local receipts) continue to be estimated conservatively but contribute valuable funds to the Town’s operations
“This budget will continue to move the Town forward along the steady and prudent financial path established over decades of strong fiscal management,” Bockelman said. “We have a very ambitious agenda of work laid out for FY19 and this budget will enable us to take great strides in addressing these goals.”
44% of the budget is dedicated to Public Safety, 33% to General Government, 10% to Public Works, 7% to Community Services, and 6% to Planning, Conservation and Inspections.
The $23.8 million Town budget recommendation is separate from schools and libraries. The 3.5% increase is higher than in previous years due to larger than normal employee health insurance costs
84% of the budget is dedicated to personnel services and employee benefits. “We are in the people business,” Bockelman stated. “We are only as good as the people who work for the Town and, fortunately, we have fantastic people serving the public.”
The challenge of the Health Claims Trust Fund is the major financial hurdle facing the Town, which all three employers (Town, Schools and Library) are working hard to manage utilizing existing resources.
The budget projects strong revenue growth for FY19 with Property Tax revenues increasing by 4.1% and Local Receipts increasing by 4.3%. Significant new revenue growth speaks to the significant impact that new construction has on the operations of the Town. New growth in the value of property in Town is projected to add $2 million to revenues. This budget utilizes this timely increase in revenues to address the health insurance costs and allows for a 3.5% increase in the operating budgets for the Town, Schools and Library.
Some of the goals listed in the Town Manager’s budget are:
- Embracing the philosophy of sustainability and developing a broad policy and goals to reduce energy use in the face of climate change;
- Addressing the backlog of paving needs for roads, sidewalks, and crosswalks including funding for ongoing maintenance;
- Taking strides to invest in the Town’s built infrastructure including maintenance of existing buildings and building new DPW and Fire Department headquarters;
- Working with stakeholders to develop a shared vision for the development of the downtown and village centers;
- Developing a plan to meet the Town’s obligation to provide reasonable health insurance for its retirees, employees, and their families;
- Utilizing the fire staffing study to determine appropriate service and staffing levels for the Fire Department while continuing to monitor call volume and plans of neighboring communities;
- Continuing to evaluate and analyze the Town’s operations to identify paths to greater efficiency; and,
- Cultivating strategies to make the Town an age-friendly community.
In addition to these initiatives, Town staff will be dedicated to moving forward on numerous projects that have been funded. These include:
- The renovation of the North Common – the most treasured piece of public real estate in Town – along with the reconstruction of the Main Street parking lot;
- The renewal of Groff Park to accommodate active play areas such as a playground and spray park;
- Locating and developing a dog park;
- Permitting and constructing a solar array on the North Landfill and environmental mitigation efforts on the South Landfill;
- Installing new BikeShare stations; and,
- Assess future plans for Puffers Pond, Cherry Hill Golf Course, and water system supply and resiliency.
All material is available on the Town’s website at: www.amherstma.gov/budget
Town Manager's Budget Presentation (PDF)
Town Manager's Budget Executive Summary
Copy of Press Release