Hudson Selectmen Ask Department Heads if They Need a 2.5% Budget Increase
September 6, 2019
by Len Lathrop
Yes, it is that time of year again when the selectmen and school board ask their principals and department heads to begin preparing a budget that will govern the town and school department. Starting July 2020 and ending June 30, 2021, you, the voters, will be asked to approve these in March 2020.
Before we look at the projected numbers from this year’s approved budget, be aware of two things: first that warrant articles also contributed to the final number raised from taxation or other revenue budget lines and second that roughly 80 percent of the cost of government is for salaries. This new spending is not inclusive of the labor cost; those are set by various contracts that the populous has also approved.
During the discussion at their meeting on Aug. 27, the selectmen made the point that departments have been asked to hold the line on spending for many years to the point that we are “behind the eight ball” in terms of equipment and supplies. Selectman Coutu did argue that the system currently used of the department comes in with a zero increase from the prior year and then a special request of the selectmen when something was absolutely needed. According to Coutu, this was a system he sponsored in his first term and it has been working.
Discussion went around the room with Coutu remaining against the change, but as the voices slowed, the motion was to offer a 2.5-percent option to refill the shelves of their department.
Kathy Carpentier, Hudson’s finance director, helped with a project based on this year’s numbers. If all department heads used the 2.5 percent, the annual cost to the average $300,000 home would be $1.80.
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Whenever we think about the tax rate being set, the time to get involved is now as departments and principals present their requests to their bosses. Don’t wait until the deliberative session at the first part of February.