Northbridge Finance Committee Takes First Look At Budget

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Northbridge Town Manager Theodore Kozak presents his budget plan Wednesday.
Northbridge Town Manager Theodore Kozak presents his budget plan Wednesday. Photo Credit: File

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.

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Comments (16)

Don't mix school stuff with the other stuff.
Keep 'em separated.

frog pond;

I saw the Schools Flat Bed Rack Truck the other day, it looks about twenty years old. Plus the floor boards look so rusted out, you could put your foot through it and wiggle your toes.

Plus during the historical Lifespan of this School Departments Truck, many other Town Departments have also used it for it's Hydraulically Powered Lift Gate, saving the Taxpayers money.

Maybe a one time Debt Exclusion like the Town did recently for some other new Vehicles?

If it's that old and in that condition why
hasn't it been addressed in previous
school budgets?
It shouldn't be bundled or attached as a
rider to other non-school items. Even
if it's used by others, it's primary purpose
is school-related.

frog pond,

Who knows maybe it kept on going on the wish list as the TMang mentions in the Article, or trying to hold off and save the Town money for as long as possible?

Who knows maybe it was mentioned and it may have been put off do to budgetary concerns?

Maybe they thought they could keep it going using more Duck Tape, Chewing Gum, Shoe Laces, Coat Hangers, trying to honestly save the taxpayers money?

Who Knows?

I'm sorry, Sonny, the schools trying to honestly save the
taxpayers money? I got a bridge in Rockdale you might
be interested in. It's already finished.

frog pond, like all groups in town the School Administration most likely has a "wish list" of things they would like to add to a budget. These could be new staff, new equipment etc, and there is a price tag to this wish list. Since there is a limit to what the departments can expect in the budget talks each year (the TM could tell them add 1% or stay flat) the departments then need to PRIORITIZE these items on the wish list. The truck most likely has been on that list for years and every year when it came time to prioritize these items buying a replacement truck was shelved so another item could be funded. Now we are at point where the truck HAS to be replaced so now it moves to the top of the list.

that's fine, whderv. It also could be the schools were hoping
another department would tack it on to its budget. I still feel
anything predominantly for schools should be on the school
budget. Let the truck be at the top of the school budget, then.

frog pond,

Just commenting about the truck, but I also know for years they were dealing with a lot of unfunded State and Federal School mandates.

I am not an expert on the School Budget you may know more then me. But I have faith in our School Committee, School Maint Team, and I am very impressed with the new School Superintendent.

Here's last year's proposed budget:

I thought the DPW had a backhoe?

They do have one and I believe that it is out or just recently returned from being repaired. It is approximately 13 years old and is succumbing to the years of neglect it was shown. You can only run them in the salt and not wash them off for so long before they really start to show their age.

A problem that rivals or even eclipses the fact that this stuff is stored outside is the fact that for so many years washing things after winter use was never a priority. Being stored outside doesn't reak anywhere near the amount of havoc to metal that being covered with salt does. Daily exposure to the elements causes things like light surface rust to develop and causes paint to fade. Big gaping holes in dump bodies, rusted frames and chassis components are caused by prolonged exposure to salt.

If former management had placed a priority on a practice as simple as washing things off after being used in the salt it would have prolonged the lives of many pieces of equipment in the arsenal at the "DPW pit".

Just A Guy,

If I recall the Town may have received a letter from DEP reference concerns of oil, grease, and salt, man made water drainage going into the Mumford River from the present DPW site, if I am correct? I thought that was another reason for the importance of a new DPW that would be hooked up to Town Sewage, with an Oil & Water, Grease, separator planned into the drainage process? Since the prior management may not have had a water & oil drainage, grease, separator available to them, maybe they did the best they could?


I don't believe that there are any provisions that prevent a cold water rinse outside.

Just A Guy,

Cold Water rinse in these outside frigid Temps, Brrrr, Ice Berg Rinse Time, and Ice Equipment, and Frosty DPW Snowperson time. :)

union man;

Maybe the Rust finally chewed it all up?

Maybe the Town can find some extra penny's for the DPW budget?