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The Select Board on Feb. 5 unanimously voted to receive Arlington’s proposed fiscal 2025 budget -- a $218 million plan reflecting a 3.22-percent increase over FY24.

Next year’s fiscal budget maintains the board’s commitment to fiscal discipline while sustaining quality municipal services, and it makes investments in response to community needs, said Deputy Town Manager/Finance Director Alex McGee. “Maintaining the board’s override commitments are important to our budgets, as are making targeted investments.” 

In a slide presentation to the board, McGee and Town Manager Jim Feeney emphasized at the Feb. 5 meeting that this budget responds to ongoing school-enrollment pressures, building Arlington’s future and minimizing the impact of the override on property-taxpayers, particularly seniors and others on fixed incomes. The budget maintains the board’s commitment to keeping a 5-percent financial reserve. To see the full slide presentation, click here >> 

7.7% revenue increase

“The revenue figures show high growth, a 7.7-percent increase, due to the override. The largest amount of revenues, 75 percent, is from property taxes. Local receipts grew by 4 percent and state aid by 1.3 percent. In addition, free cash is larger than last year. However, there’s been a huge drop of about $5 million in school-construction aid,” said McGee. Select Board logo

Last Nov. 7, Arlington voters approved a $7 million operating override, a property-tax increase set to first be collected in July of this year.

“The long-range-planning revenue shortfall was expected to be 5 percent but came in just under 1 percent, which affects us for several years,” added McGee.

6% increase in expenditures

Expenditures will increase approximately 6 percent. The school department, also known as Arlington Public Schools, has the largest increase, at about 8 percent ($7,173,914).

Health care and pensions also show big growth, noted McGee. 

“The biggest change is in state aid. It was expected to grow at 5 percent but grew at only 1 percent and now shows a deficit of $1 million in fiscal '26," Feeney said. "However, there’s good news for the Minuteman [Regional Vocational Technical] School District: Our community allotment is going down by $350,000 in fiscal '25.”

Health insurance premiums and pensions are higher than projected, by about 10 percent and 6 percent, respectively. In addition, the town received 38 new expense requests from department heads, adding just over $270,000 to the town’s budget, said Feeney. 

Further, “We had a big increase in utility costs due to a 40-percent increase in kilowatt hours during the winter rates. We’ve also had to make street-light repairs and replacements, which are now 10 years old,” added Feeney.

Feeney also explained that expenditures include:

  • Field maintenance.
  • IT department investments, including a new platform and added cybersecurity services because of new and more sophisticated phishing threats.
  • Mystic Street police station surveillance cameras.
  • $10,000 allotted for police body cameras.
  • $18,000 for an additional part-time Robbins Library circulation librarian plus funding for the library to be open again on Thursday mornings. Arlington’s library circulation is the highest in the state and so requires additional circulation support. 
  • Any remaining funds will be put into salary reserve and collective-bargaining units. 

Budget reductions include a 25-percent decrease in postage, and, in IT, $7,000 for cell phones and nearly $3,000 less for software platforms than before. 

Among Select Board members, only Diane Mahon commented about the budget plan, saying that even more money is needed for cybersecurity, but she still joined her colleagues in approving the budget.

Watch ACMi video of Feb. 5 meeting:

  


Nov. 8, 2023: Unofficial election results show passage of override, senior-citizen tax relief

This news summary by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert was published Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024.

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