Vol. I No. 02 8/18/2020
Budget Updateby Patrick White
With all of the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic, it's important that we all pay close attention to the status of the Town budget. Here is a summary of where the Town stands.
The Town works on a July 1 – June 30 fiscal year. As part of its COVID response this past spring, the previous Select Board led by Terry Flynn voted to delay the date that property taxes were due from May 1 to June 1.
As of June 30th, the end of our fiscal year, the Town had collected 95.32% of its real estate taxes. The prior year, we collected approximately 98% by the end of the fiscal year, though taxes were due a month earlier, which may explain the discrepancy. Since July 1, we have collected about 98% of the FY2020 taxes due, bringing us in line with collections from the prior year. We have also collected nearly 99% of the personal property taxes levied.
A significant bright spot is local receipts, which include everything from motor vehicle excise taxes, water and sewer fees, PILOT receipts and rentals. Our actual revenues from local receipts were approximately 34% above budget, including motor vehicles excise tax (+6%), solid waste fees (+129%), rentals (+38%) and investment income (a whopping 490% above budget). All in all, total local receipts, including water and sewer, were well over $550,000 or 134% above budget.
Looking to the current fiscal year, we'll need to continue to keep an eye on the meals and rooms local option taxes, which together totaled nearly $420,000. We expect a sharp decline in these revenues in FY2021, but even a 75% decline would result in just a 3% hit to our overall revenues. Another area of concern: how will the pandemic impact the School District budget? The Finance Committee and the Select Board recommended, and the Town Meeting approved, a COVID transfer into the Stabilization Fund for exactly this purpose.
These success stories are a direct result of the strong management of the Town under the previous Select Board, the efforts of Mark Webber, the interim Town Administrator, and the hard work of Ray Ellsworth (Town Accountant) and Karen Williams (Town Treasurer and Town Collector). The strong numbers are also the result of the excellent efforts by our Town Assessor, Michael Blay, and the Board of Assessors, who do the hard work to ensure that we accurately set tax rates to reflect what the top line needs to be to support the Town's budget. Of course the Town's Finance Committee, a volunteer board led by Jay Bikofsky, works all year long to submit our budget to the Town. I am incredibly grateful for all the hard work of these talented individuals.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or just give me a call at 413-441-5231.
Patrick White serves on the Select Board and Conservation Commission.