Board of Selectmen to Vote on Budget and Town Meeting Articles Tonight

Town-Wide Budget
On Monday, March 15 the Hopkinton Board of Selectmen will vote to adopt a town-wide budget including the school and financial warrant articles. At this time the Board of Selectmen will also take a position to support or not the Annual Town Meeting Articles. The televised portion of the meeting begins at 6:00pm. Residents may attend in person or watch on HCAM-TV. Residents may also send questions and comments to the Selectmen at selectmen@hopkinton.org.

The Selectmen are considering reducing the Community Preservation Act (CPA) tax by approximately 1%, which would require a vote at Town Meeting. Since 2001 Hopkinton has contributed 2% to the CPA. If the reduction happens, the net tax impact of the proposed budget would be about 0.3%. If the CPA tax is not changed, the tax increase necessitated by the proposed budget would be 1.3%.

For your reference the CPA allows communities to create a local Community Preservation Fund to raise money through a surcharge of up to 3% of the real estate tax levy on real property for open space protection, historic preservation and the provision of affordable housing. The act also creates a significant state matching fund, which serves as an incentive to communities to pass the CPA. Matching funds have been reduced in recent years due to the state’s economic situation. Read more at http://commpres.env.state.ma.us/content/cpa.asp and http://www.hopkinton.org/gov/cpc/index.htm.

The Next Step in the Budget Process:
After the Selectmen adopt the budget it will be given to the Appropriations Committee who will review the budget, hold a public hearing (tentatively April 7) and develop recommendations on the budget. Residents will vote on the budget at the annual Town Meeting, which begins Monday, May 3 at 7:00pm.

Budget in Review
On Thursday February 11, Town Manager Norman Khumalo presented a Town Budget Recommendation to the Board of Selectmen, School Committee and Appropriations Committee. Under Khumalo’s $61 million proposal, the police department may have one less officer and the public library may have to close during Christmas week. For the schools to meet Khumalo’s budget, that would mean cutting their budget proposal roughly $170,000. It is not yet clear what the School Committee would cut to meet the new budget goal.

Khumalo’s overall budget raises spending 1.7 percent. Driving the increase is a projected eight percent spike in employee health insurance premiums, upgrades to computer hardware and programs for efficiency’s sake and money to cover the state’s now-missing share of the Quinn bill, which boosts police salaries after college degrees are earned and an increase to the Keefe Tech budget due to three more Hopkinton students attending Keefe Tech. It also accounts for previously negotiated raises and new contracts, because town police officers and firefighters are entering the final year of contracts providing 3 percent raises.