WHAT’S GETTING CUT? Town Predicts $1.5 Million Shortfall Due To COVID-19

WILMINGTON, MA — At last week’s Board of Selectmen Meeting, Town Manager Jeff Hull announced that the town projects revenues for Fiscal Year 2021 will come in approximately $1,545,000 below estimates originally made in early January.

“The major category of revenue expected to fall short of projections is local aid,” began Hull in a memo to Selectmen. “Given the expenditures the Commonwealth is making on COVID-19 related measures and an expected decline in their own revenues, I am projecting a decline in Chapter 70 Education Aid of 5% ($630,804.50) and Unrestricted General Aid of 15% ($422,393.35).”

Hull noted that revenue from motor vehicle excise taxes ($241,750 decline), meal taxes ($200,000 decline), and penalties on late payments ($50,000 decline) are also expected to drop.

To compensate for the projected shortfall, Hull and his administration have made 12 notable adjustments to proposed FY21 budget.

“The vast majority of the adjustments are being made through transferring five town and school capital improvement projects from funding through the tax levy to funding through use of free cash,” explained Hull.

These five projects include computer replacements at the high school ($195,000); laptop replacements for PreK-Grade 3 teachers ($195,000); remodel of Central Dispatch ($194,000); a vacuum street sweeper ($280,000); and the resurfacing of parking lot ($210,000).

Hull also announced he is deferring the Town Hall/School Administration Building project at this time. A $955,000 feasibility study was to be voted on at the 2020 Annual Town Meeting.

Hull has realized additional savings by making the following reductions:

  • The town will be remove funding for an in-depth review of options associated with the town’s six elementary schools. The town won’t engage in such a review until it is invited into the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s CORE program. This is a savings of $120,000. The town WILL move forward with a funding to seek assistance to develop a viable option for accommodating students and staff at the Wildwood Early Childhood Center. That funding request totals $80,000.
  • The town will only purchase 2 new police cruisers, instead of 4 as initially planed, a savings of $100,000.
  • The town will postpone the development a long range plan for sidewalk construction, a savings of $11,000.
  • The town will reduce its budget for legal services based on recent history, a savings of $15,000.
  • The town originally projected a 5% increase in its assessment to Shawsheen Tech, but the increase ultimately came in at 3%, a savings of $93,000.
  • The town will not be funding any costs associated with the Fun on the Fourth celebration, which has been cancelled, a savings of $50,000.
  • The School Department has been asked to identify $81,925 in adjustments to their operating and capital budgets to “bridge the gap.”

“Other categories of Town revenue will require continued monitoring as it is not possible to project the true impacts of COVID-19 on the economy,” cautioned Hull, who noted the picture will become “somewhat clearer” once the Governor and the legislature approved a FY21 spending plan and information on local aid is provided.

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