Town Budget Adds Teachers, Helps Police, Fire and Social Services

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Watertown’s Fiscal 2016 budget will provide a boost for the town’s schools, bolster the Police and Fire departments and look to improve public transportation. 

Town Manager Michael Driscoll presented the $119,115,250 Fiscal 2016 budget to the Town Council Tuesday night. The figure is 4.5 percent more than Fiscal 2015 – the current budget year – an increase of $5.1 million.

“I believe the submitted Fiscal Year 2016 Budget focuses on achieving the long-term goal of sound financial management and fiscal stability,” Driscoll said.

Watertown’s schools will add 21.2 new positions as part of the $41.9 million budget. Education funding got a 6.87 percent, $2.7 million boost in Fiscal 2016.

Like in Fiscal 2015 year, the town also provided one-time funding for curriculum initiatives, which are not part of permanent, year-to-year budget. In Fiscal 2016, the schools will receive $375,000 in one-time funds, Driscoll said.

The budget also includes funds to help hire three police officers, Driscoll said. The Watertown Police Chief Edward Deveau has applied for a federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Grant that would help put more police on the street.

“The Fiscal 2016 budget includes the 25 percent local cash match for the COPS grant,” Driscoll said.

The Police Department will receive $8.7 million in Fiscal 2016, up $701,000. Included in the budget will be the addition of a School Resource Officer at Watertown Middle School for the 2015-16 school year, and the restoration of the the Cops for Kids Program and/or the Police Athletic League, Driscoll said. The Recreation Department will help run the Cops for Kids and Police Athletic League.

The Fire Department’s share of the budget will be $8.7 million, an $1.1 million increase. This includes funds to prepare the Fire Department to provide Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance service, Driscoll said.

Currently, the Fire Department provides Basic Life Support service, and contracts with a private ambulance company for ALS services. Money has been set aside to equip Watertown ambulances with the equipment needed for ALS, Driscoll said.

The town’s social services resource specialist has been extended for at least a year. The position, currently occupied by Danielle DeMoss at the Wayside Youth and Family Support Network, was approved in 2013, and funded for a two-year pilot, with half the funds coming from the town and half from foundations and private sources. The Fiscal 2016 budget includes $25,000 for the town’s share of the position, with the rest coming from private sources.

Revenue Sources

The state’s share of the revenue went up $282,000, or 2.47 percent compared to Fiscal 2015. The $11.4 million in state aid makes up 9.8 percent of the budget.

Local real estate and personal property taxes will make up up 75.5 percent of the budget. The town will collect $89.9 million, an increase of $4.1 million or 4.85 percent. That amount includes $2.15 million in new growth, Driscoll said.

The other major portion of the revenue is Local Receipts, which includes motor vehicle excise taxes and inspection fees for new developments. The town will get $10.3 million, which makes up 8.6 percent of the budget, Driscoll said.

This is an increase of 10.7 percent, or nearly $1 million. The biggest portion of that increase comes from inspection fees, which went up $850,000. The town also lost $122,800 in incentives for the agreement the town has to dispose of trash at the Wheelabrator plant.

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