MONTGOMERY—The Town of Montgomery has proposed a municipal tax rate of $0.7817 for fiscal 2021, which covers an 18-month period as the town moves from a calendar year to a fiscal year.
The town’s municipal tax rate for the 12-month period of 2019 was set at $0.5034, 55 percent less than is proposed for fiscal 2021. The one-time 18-month fiscal 2021 budget covers January 2020 through June 2021.
The town has proposed total budgeted expenditures of about $1.79 million, with $1.26 million to be raised by property taxes for the 18-month period of fiscal 2021, contingent on all articles passing this Town Meeting Day.
According to the town report, comparing year-to-year figures is more difficult for this 18-month budget. It is not as simple as multiplying line items by 150 percent. But moving to a fiscal year better aligns with the town’s accounting systems, it said.
Voters will decide Tuesday on the town’s proposal of a contingent selectboard appropriation of just over $1.67 million for fiscal year 2021. The town’s selectboard appropriation for the 12-month year 2019 was $601,703.
Changes to the proposed budget under the contingent selectboard allocations for fiscal 2021 include a $100,000 increase in highway payroll, a $53,575 increase in town office payroll, a $176,000 increase to projects and events and a $48,684 increase for emergency services. Increases are due in part to budgeting for an additional six months compared to the 2019 budget.
Montgomery Selectboard Chair and Budget Committee member Charlie Hancock said much of the increased expenditures shown in the fiscal 2021 budget under projects and events is due to cleanup around town from the Halloween storm.
“We had quite a bit of expenditure around the work we did last fall to get things back into shape before the snow fell, and we’ve got quite a bit of projected expenses around the remainder of those repairs,” Hancock said.
Montgomery was included in the federally declared disaster due to the extensive flooding in the town brought by the storm.
“We are anticipating working with FEMA to get a good portion of that reimbursed,” he said.
The proposed increase in emergency services expenditures due to the budget’s inclusion of a proposal for the town to enter into an 18-month contract with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department. This contract will stand as it’s own article on the ballot this Town Meeting day would not exceed $20,800 for a 12-month period and $31,200 for the 18-month period.
Voters will also decide on whether to allocate $47,471 to fund the town’s fire department, $31,404 to fund library operating expenses and $30,000 to the recreation department for the 18 months of fiscal 2021.
The town’s proposed fiscal 2021 budget does not plan to allocate any funds to the infrastructure replacement fund, building capital improvement and maintenance, or machinery replacement fund, which together totaled $109,700 in allocations for the 12-month 2019 budget.
The proposed fiscal 2021 budget includes the allocation of $42,361 for payment on a fire tanker the town ordered in 2019 as well as a total of $100,420 for payments on two highway department maintenance vehicles.
The proposed 18-month fiscal 2021 fire department budget plans to allocate $3,142 more for radio repair, $2,674 more for dispatch fees, $2,250 more for vehicle repairs and $3,000 more for new equipment than in the 12-month 2019 budget. This new equipment includes the department’s purchase in 2019 of a set of hydraulic extrication tools.
The proposed fire department budget includes $6,000 in revenue from donations and fundraisers, $4,000 in revenue from the town of Westfield and $10,000 from reserve funds.
The Montgomery Fire Department has seen increases in call volume for six consecutive years, according to the town report.
The town previously voted to pass this one-time 18-month budget. And starting in 2021, all budgets will take effect July 1, 4 months after being passed by voters.
The town’s report said moving to the fiscal year makes planning the town report more manageable. Municipal taxes will be billed on the same cycle as education taxes. And planning contractual obligations will be easier.
The town has recognized the financial hardship the increase for moving to a fiscal year could cause in its town report. So the town has proposed to amend the tax due dates for one year so that two-thirds the municipal tax portion is still due in November with the remainder due in May.
This amendment would require an affirmative vote by Montgomery residents, which the town hopes to hold during a special subsequent town meeting, the report said.