LONGMEADOW, MA – Longmeadow voters approved the fiscal year 2020 (FY20) budget and capital expenditures at the Annual Town Meeting at Longmeadow High School on Tuesday, May 14.
The budget of $69.1 million was overwhelmingly supported by voters with one minor adjustment. An amendment on the floor calling for the addition of $16,000 to the public safety line item to account for recent compensation increases was proposed and accepted.
Town Manager Stephen Crane, presenting what is probably his final budget before the Longmeadow Town Meeting, explained that the budget was developed with the tax ceiling issue in mind and it marked the second straight year that the budget increase was lower than the year before. In FY19, the town approved a budget that represented a 2.3% increase over the prior year’s budget. The FY20 budget consisted of a 2% increase, representing a general savings of approximately $250,000 for taxpayers, he said.
The budget also accounts for a local aid increase of 6.2%, but Crane said that number may actually turn out to be higher.
As usual, schools make up the most significant portion of the budget at $35.2 million, a 2.6% increase over FY19. Public Works (3.4%), Community Services (4.5%) – specifically necessary improvements to the Storrs Library’s staffing and services – and employee benefits (7.5%) represented some of the other areas with significant increases in their budgets. The employee benefits increases are customary, Crane said.
Free Cash was reported at slightly over $500,000.
Residents also approved a number of capital projects. Voters were in favor of raising and appropriating 13 projects ranging from fire apparatus to school projects including HVAC upgrades, boiler replacements and fire alarms totaling $1.7 million. In addition, $87,556 in Capital Stabilization Fund monies were approved for pavement preservation and a dump truck and backhoe for the Department of Public Works were OKed through a combination of Water Retained Earnings, Sewer Retained Earnings and funds raised and appropriated through the FY20 budget.
Also approved was the use of $162,000 to establish a Salary Settlement Account in order to cover FY20 collective bargaining agreements. This is due to the fact that all of the town’s non-school collective bargaining agreements expire at the end of June, with the exception of the contract with fire personnel, which does not expire until 2021.
More in-depth coverage of Town Meeting can be found in the May 23 edition of the Longmeadow News.