With a large budget request by the Watertown Public Schools, some Town Councilors asked if some of the increase for the schools could be found by cutting capital spending.
Councilor Tony Palomba brought up the subject during Tuesday’s Council meeting when the Fiscal 2015 capital budget came up. He suggested cutting down the amount of money borrowed by the town for building projects and capital purchases – such as vehicles.
“I have been told there is no relationship between the operational and capital budgets. That may be true, but I know when I borrow money I have to pay it back to the bank, and with interest,” Palomba said. “The budgets don’t stand by themselves. There is a relationship between the operational budget and the capital budget. It all comes from the our tax dollars.”
The Fiscal 2015 budget request from Watertown school officials is $6 million higher than the previous year, a 16 percent hike. In the fall, Town Manager Michael Driscoll said he projected a 4 percent increase for all departments in town, including the schools.
The amount in the proposed capital budget, $9.1 million, would be 8.11 percent of the $112.48 million total proposed Fiscal 2015 projected expenditures by the town. The Town Council’s budget policy calls for spending 7.5 to 8 percent of the town budget on capital expenditures.
The council’s Budget and Financial Oversight subcommittee recommended cutting the spending to be in line with the budget policy.
Town Councilor Aaron Dushku suggested that policy could be changed, at least temporarily, to help pay for the school increase. He said education has been a big concern for many residents with whom he has spoken.
“Something we have all heard about and talked about is the school budget is enormous, and we need to find a way to get under it,” Dushku said. “I take pride in the parks and there are a lot of important things here (in the capital budget) but the most important things for me are my kids.”
Dushku made a motion to have the Budget and Fiscal Oversight subcommittee look at cutting the amount spent on capital projects and purchases in future years, at least for the short term. The Town Council voted unanimously to approve the motion.