Officials Outline Budget At Annual Spring Forum

According to the town charter, the Town spring forum is about budget matters, and Tuesday night Town Manager Austin Faison got to hold his first forum at the DeLeo Senior Center regarding the coming fiscal year 2020 budget.

“We have $2.3 million in growth of FY20 versus FY19,” Faison began about his overall proposed budget of $64 million.

Chief Financial Officer Anna Freedman said that so far numbers from the state, which solidify the local budget, appear to show a $59,000 increase in Chapter 70 funds, which supports schools.

While state aid has not been finalized it appears that there will be an estimated receipt increase of about 2.36 percent and an increase and assessment in charges of four percent.

Most department heads attended the meeting for a time and a handful of residents.

Faison also outlined policy initiatives that will have an overall impact on the budget.

Assistant Town Manager David Rodrigues, who has been working on the Center Business District (CBD), gave an update on the infrastructure project.  He said the Town Manager’s CBD Committee has provided critical input to make this a single project, which includes the road and sidewalk work.

Rodrigues noted several public meetings and continuous public outreach throughout the project will be scheduled to keep the community informed of the project status, changes in traffic patterns, and updates. 

“The CBD is an open process through the planning board and the zoning maps,” he said and pointed out that  the middle school site has not been forgotten.

Rodrigues said they are currently doing some real estate title work on the old middle school property and assessing all equipment still left inside the school.

He’d like to see the town engage in a request for proposal process in 2020 for the middle school.

Faison said another important document the town has to decide on is a town wide Master Plan, a visioning document to reach to 2030.

“I want the community to decide the direction of the community,” Faison said, adding he’d like to someday see a community development and economic development department in town.

Another area Faison wants to tackle is a “Zero Waste” initiative to reduce solid waste in town by 70 percent. He would also like to see more recycling education in schools.

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