Finance, School Boards $172,808 Apart
The Westborough Advisory Finance Committee posted its annual town meeting recommendations Sunday.
The Westborough Advisory Finance Committee is recommending a school budget that’s $172,808 less than the school board’s request.
The warrant includes 17 articles – starting with the annual town election, which was last Tuesday.
The finance board supports $42,521,400. The school committee voted on Dec. 19 to seek $42,694,208. That's a 3.07 percent increase, which is less than the 3.67 percent initially recommended by Superintendent Marianne O'Connor.
“A focal point of the AFC's deliberations on the school budget was the desire to control spending and keep tax increases down,” the finance committee wrote.
“Five of the nine members supported the recommended budget amount but not a lower amount, two members supported the original budget requested by the school committee, and two members supported a budget amount even lower than the majority recommended budget.”
The finance committee also voted 9-0 to recommend Westborough borrow $7,354,063 for a Westborough Town Hall Building Renovation project, as requested by the municipal building committee.
Town Manager Jim Malloy explained the request to voters in his statement in the warrant.
“This article is for the renovation of the Town Hall as previously proposed at an estimated cost of $7,354,063 which is an increase of the estimate in 2012 of
$6,560,192. This increase is due to a 5% escalation in the construction cost due
to the construction industry getting better as the economy has improved; $200,000 to cover the cost of moving and leasing space for 14 months; increasing the owners project manager costs by $99,870; and increasing the contingency from 7.7% to 10% ($209,369),” Malloy said.
“As discussed at various meetings over the past year, the town has reviewed the option of moving out of Town Hall and leasing space as an option and after a public hearing on this proposal, it was clear residents wanted the town to remain in Town Hall.
“Additionally, during the past year, the town obtained costs for making piecemeal repairs to Town Hall (and not installing an elevator and renovating the second and third floors, which would subsequently not support the plan to expand the Police Station in the Forbes Building), this cost was estimated at $3,851,281 (plus mold remediation which would be over and above) and would be very disruptive due to removal of asbestos, mold and replacement of the electrical, heating and windows.
“This project as proposed maintains the ‘phased-in’ approach discussed at the Fall 2012 Town Meeting that included undertaking four building projects over the course of the next several years while maintaining the total debt costs of the Town at a level less than Fiscal Year 2012, less than 7.0% of the General Fund Operating budget and within Proposition 2½.”
The finance committee also voted 6-3 to support the planning board’s proposed zoning change related to marijuana dispensaries and cultivation.
“The amendment's stated purpose is precautionary, to prevent perceived risks in the absence of local controls,” the board aid.
“Our discussions revealed widely divergent opinions regarding whether to support this amendment or not. Most committee members agreed that at least a short-term moratorium with a sunset provision would be desirable. The majority preferred the article as presented over the alternative of having no local bylaw regulating medical marijuana.”