NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – The Northbridge Finance Committee got its first look Wednesday at a proposed budget for fiscal year 2014, but with federal budget cuts looming, it may all change, Town Manager Theodore Kozak said.
Kozak's level-funded budget assumes the governor’s plan, which is to increase state aid by 1 percent, will stand. “Using the governor’s numbers is always scary’’ early in the budget process, but more so this year because of the possibility of federal sequestration, he said.
Sequestration is the term used for the automatic federal budget cuts set to take effect March 1 unless Congress takes steps to prevent them.
If all goes as Kozak hopes, however, the town would have a $38 million budget for 2013-14, which includes an additional $425,2877 in taxes, a 2.5 percent increase allowed under Proposition 2 ½, $220,000 in new growth and a state aid increase of about $231,500.
Taking revenue and charges against revenue into consideration, Kozak said the town is looking at a net gain of about $438,000. That would cover salary increases currently being negotiated, and increases in veteran benefits, Medicare, medical liability and property and workers comp insurance.
He’s also proposing an additional $30,000 for a school resource police officer, half of which would be paid by the school department. Kozak also is proposing a $200,000 increase for the school department, $600,000 less than requested.
“So out of that $438,000, how much have you spent?’’ Finance Committee Chairman Salvatore D’Amato asked.
“All of it,’’ answered Kozak.
“The issue I’m concerned with it what happens in Congress,’’ Kozak said. “I’ll have a budget for you next week, but it’s still a little iffy.’’
Kozak also went over the town’s five year Capital Plan.
In 2014, the school department is seeking $225,000 for security improvements at the town’s four schools and a truck with plow; the Fire Department is looking for a bucket truck and a ladder truck; and the Department of Public Works wants a backhoe and medium-duty truck with plow.
The Building, Planning and Construction Committee placed an $8 million facility for the DPW on its list.
“These are requests and I honor them’’ by placing them on the capital plan, Kozak said, but it’s a “wish list.” Many requests will be put off.
He said he has discussed with Schools Superintendent Nancy Spitulnik the possibility of combining the school’s security needs with some of the vehicle requests and asking voters for a debt exclusion to meet those needs.
Spitulnik and the School Committee will meet with the Board of Selectmen on Monday to discuss that proposal, he said.