Burlington Town Meeting To Vote On 3.5 Percent Budget Increase

Christopher Huffaker

BURLINGTON, MA — Town Meeting Members will vote Wednesday on the Fiscal Year 2021 budget, which is a 3.5 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2020.

Revenues have dropped severely due to the coronavirus and are expected to remain low in Fiscal Year 2021, relative to Fiscal Year 2021. Local receipts are projected to be $16.7 million, level with the current year but down more than a quarter from the year before. State aid, too, is level, at just under $10 million.

Fortunately, Town Administrator Paul Sagarino said in a budget overview, "Moving into the pandemic the town was in the best financial position its ever been in."

The property tax levy, which makes up nearly 80 percent of the town's revenues, is unchanged. Commercial property owners pay 62 percent of the $123.5 million tax levy. State aid only covers about 6 percent of the town budget.

Of $154 million in revenues, only about $27 million is at risk, Town Accountant John Danizio said.

To respond to lost revenue and ongoing uncertainty, spending plans have been withdrawn and postponed: $1.5 million from free cash, in particular. In addition, the "accommodated budget," which covers areas like health insurance and trash collection, has come in lower than expected, saving money.

Other spending items are being treated as contingent: they are included in the budget, but town officials have said they will hold off on spending until there is more clarity.

The town meeting, originally scheduled for May 11, will take place Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Burlington High School.

Christopher Huffaker can be reached at 412-265-8353 or chris.huffaker@patch.com.

This article originally appeared on the Burlington Patch