Georgetown Starts Cutting the Town Budget

Tuesday June 18, 2024

Georgetown - Formerly New Rowley

GEORGETOWN – The schools, police and fire departments may have to take a sizable financial hit next year to balance the town’s budget after the voters turned down a proposed $3 million property tax hike.
The town has called a Special Town Meeting at 7 p.m., Monday, June 24, in the auditorium of the High/Middle School, 11 Winter St.
SelectBoard Chair Daryl Lamonica last week urged as many residents as possible to attend. “It’s you, the residents, who will decide this budget,” he said at the SelectBoard meeting.
According to an official spreadsheet, the schools may lose about $300,000 in the proposed new budget. This year, the schools’ budget is $17.8 million and the proposed budget approved at the Town Meeting in May was almost $19 million. The new town budget would reduce the school budget by 1.5 percent to $17.6 million.
The town budget for public safety would increase by 1 percent from $2.87 million this year to $2.9 million next year. The police and fire chiefs had hoped their budgets would increase to $3.3 million, that was approved at the May Town Meeting to allow the hiring of more officers and firefighters.
The police department budget this year is $1.7 million. Town Meeting raised it to $1.8 million, but the proposed budget scheduled for a vote at the Special Town Meeting is $1.67 million, a reduction of 2.5 percent.
The fire department may have the largest cut at 6.7 percent. The current budget is $662,471. The Town Meeting increased it to $933,384, but the proposed budget for the fire department at the Special Town Meeting is $706,919.
The communications center would remain at the same level that the Town Meeting approved at $327,890, a $23,500 increase over the current budget.
At the Special Town Meeting next week, residents will also be asked to postpone spending money to replace the carpet in the school auditorium, the room the vote will be taken in. Also postponed would be proposed masonry repairs at the school.
In addition, the town may not buy a cell phone repeater. And the proposal is to cut $150,000 in curriculum and instructional materials.
If approved at the meeting on Monday, proposed new carpeting for Town Hall will be postponed.
Also on the chopping block is a septic system at Camp Denison and testing at the landfill for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which can pollute the town’s water. Town Administrator Orlando Pacheco told the SelectBoard last week that the threat to the water system was minimal.
The tree warden would see no cut of the proposed $18,000 that was approved in May. But several regulatory boards and commissions may see major cuts.
The Health Department, Conservation Commission and Planning Board, all of which would oversee the proposed new G. Mello Trash Corp.’s transfer station, will each see significant cuts.
The Health Department’s budget this year is $168,000, and the town meeting in May increased it to $182,358. If approved Monday night, the special town meeting would cut the Health Department’s budget to $143,339.
The Planning Department’s budget for this year is $142,895. The regular Town Meeting increased it to $146,000. The Special Town Meeting proposes to cut the Planning Board to $103,000.
The Conservation Commission’s budget was cut almost in half from its current level of $96,257. The regular Town Meeting cut it to almost $59,000, but the Special Town Meeting cut it another $5,000.
Cultural and recreational activities was increased by $20,000 in May to $105,320, only to face being cut next week to $20,000.

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