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    Town manager proposes increased spending

    Town Manager Richard Montuori recently presented selectmen with a fiscal 2014 budget that would increase spending by 2 percent over the current year. Under the plan, the overall budget would rise by $2.55 million. Spending would increase by $1.39 million, or 3.1 percent, for the School Department; by $923,590, or 3.3 percent, for general government departments; and by $345,968, or 6.2 percent, for the town’s assessment to the Shawsheen Regional Technical School district. A large portion of the spending increase — $895,890 for the schools and $449,040 for general government — is the result of 2 percent salary increases plus step pay increases for union and nonunion employees. Also contributing are rising health care costs, $616,234 for the schools and $135,486 for general government, and rising retirement costs, $62,270 for the schools and $282,047 for general government. (Part of the increases for the schools were offset by lower operating costs and by state and federal grants and reimbursements). Montuori said the budget is tight, noting that it does not include funding to increase staff or overtime in public safety, despite those being priorities. The budget assumes level-funded state aid of $15.4 million and a slight rise in local revenues.