After several years of budget cuts, the town is starting to restore services and a handful of positions that had been trimmed back in previous years. “We are markedly better positioned than most communities in the Commonwealth and are in fact in the rebuilding process,” said Town Manager James Kreidler in his budget memorandum “We’re on the way back up.”
This year, every general government employee — except the Town Manager — will receive a 3 percent raise for the first time in three years. In addition, the assistant town accountant position will be restored to a full-time position following a three year stint at part time. The planning agent will go from a 20 to 30 hour a week position and a part-time information technology position will be created. Mr. Kreidler called the restoration of the assistant town accountant position “huge” and spoke positively about the other positions as well.
People who aren’t employees of the town will also experience the benefits of rebuilding as more street lights will be turned on throughout town, more money is being allocated to Veteran’s benefits and $10,000 is appropriated for the 250th Anniversary Celebrations, according to the memorandum.
Crafting the budget did not come without challenges, as Mr. Kreidler is quick to point out. While the town was able to add services, it experienced a net decrease in available funds as there were increases in the cost of Worcester Regional Retirement, Montachusett Regional Vocational School, worker’s compensation, liability insurance and health insurance.
These losses were somewhat offset by growth in the tax levies and the absence of some expenses from previous years. For example, the town does not expect to buy any separation benefits this year as no one is planning to retire. “This budget is to the penny” Mr. Kreidler said. “I think it’s 2 cents.”
The budget could, however, need to be readjusted if any of the figures used to create the budget change or new expenses arise. These changes could include an unexpected increase in insurance costs or net school spending. Mr. Kreidler said that if any of these expenses change he will have to find the money by making cuts elsewhere in the budget.