Budget talks focus on capital improvements

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Plainville superintendent Steven LePage shares the BOE’s budget goals for the upcoming budget.

TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

Plainville officials are now working diligently on the town budget, on which residents will be voting on Tuesday, April 28. During the first presentation held on Tuesday, Jan. 7, the town manager and superintendent of schools put an emphasis on the capital improvement budgets.

During the December meeting of the BOE, the board approved a total capital budget of $682,400, comprised of nearly equal portions to be used for technology and facility improvements.

BOE facility projects include items such as building a secure entrance at Plainville High School, replacing the PHS swimming pool heater, and additional work on the PHS entrance area for a total of $326,000. Technology improvements include items such as replacing student and staff Chromebooks for a total of $356,400.

Town manager Robert Lee stated that between all town departments, excluding the BOE, a request of $2,203,150 has been made, but said that during the upcoming months he will be working on the amount as “it will certainly not be $2.2 million” by the time it reaches voters.

“We have fallen behind on the town side on our capital improvement budget in terms of funding and in terms of some of the projects that we keep pushing back, and I’m seeing an opportunity with our unassigned fund balance,” said Lee. “Using that unassigned fund balance for one time expenditures on the capital side is probably one of the best uses of the unassigned fund balance, so my goal is to have a general government expenditure request on the capital side of about $1,169,950.”

One of the proposed capital projects on the town side is to use $200,000 to do sidewalk replacements. Lee said currently Plainville’s unassigned fund balance is about 15% of the total budget. This is on the higher end, as an unassigned fund balance of 10% to 12% is both acceptable and common in most municipalities. In an effort to bring the fund balance closer to the goal level, Lee is proposing funding the sidewalk project through unassigned fund balance.

While no proposed budget totals were shared at this time, Lee shared that there are two items of concern for the upcoming budget – police overtime and recycling costs, which are projected to be about $200,000 over the current budget, based off of totals from November 2019.

As the budget process continues, there will be three BOE workshops that are open to the public. They will be held at 7 p.m. in the Plainville High School Learning Commons on Tuesday, Jan. 21, Thursday, Jan. 23, and Monday, Jan. 27.

Lee will be presenting his total budget proposal to the council on Monday, Mar. 2, and a public hearing on the budget has been slated to take place on Thursday, Mar. 5. Another public hearing will be held in early April, and the all day budget vote will be held on Tuesday, Apr. 28.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@PlainvilleObserver.com.