WINTHROP — As Winthrop recovers from a $1.5 million deficit caused by a mistake in 2015, it has held back on its capital improvement spending in order to moderate tax increases.

But the town says it no longer can postpone those maintenance needs, which will have a significant effect on its budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

Municipal spending, in a budget approved Monday night by town councilors, will increase by 13.6% from the current fiscal year, to $8.5 million. The school district spending plan also is increasing, by 3.55%, to $12.2 million.

It’s our expectation that the budget proposed this year will put the town in a situation that’ll leave it in a more sustainable position and the dangers of the situation will mostly be alleviated,” Town Council Chairwoman Sarah Fuller told around 45 residents attending the budget hearing Monday night.

The 2015 mistake was caused when a school budget revenue item accidentally was counted twice, and the town did not raise enough money to cover expenditures. Originally, auditors expected it to take the town five years to recover from the burden, according to Fuller.

A second reading of the budget was waived and councilors approved both of them, by a 5-1 margin. Councilor Linda Caprara voted against both, saying it was too big an increase to taxpayers, and Councilor Priscilla Jenkins was not present.

In a public hearing before the vote, there was little feedback from those in attendance.

Given the proposed changes in town, school and county spending, taxpayers can expect their property tax rate to increase by more than $2 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The anticipated tax rate could be $20.40 per $1,000 of assessed property value, an increase of $2.09 per $1,000 — or 11.41% — from the current $18.31 per $1,000. Someone with a property assessed at $100,000 would have to pay $2,040 in property taxes, before any exemptions.

The municipal budget includes a $8,528,932 spending plan, which is $1,020,735 — or 13.6% — more than the current fiscal year’s $7,508,197 spending. Capital improvements are driving the 2020 budget increase, including a school building assessment anticipated to cost $125,000.

That building assessment, said Cornelia Brown, interim superintendent of Winthrop schools, would put the town in a better position to receive funding when the state Department of Education considers capital construction projects. The assessment would look at not only the engineering of the buildings, but also their ability to promote learning.

In total, $908,066 has been been budgeted for capital improvements, a figure trimmed down from the initial request of $1,144,766. A security assessment of all the town’s buildings, including the schools, was reduced from $100,000 to $25,000.

Other proposed expenditures that didn’t make the final budget include money for a police cruiser and money to be put in reserve for possible purchase in the 2020-21 fiscal year.

The councilor-approved School Department spending plan of $12,201,158, is $418,808 — or 3.55% — greater than the current fiscal year’s budget of $11,782,350. The proposal will go before voters on June 11 to be approved or denied.

The spending plan approved by councilors, which was nearly $35,000 less than previously proposed because of a health insurance cost that was less than expected, will include funding for a new administrative position and altered roles for current administrators.

The grade school assistant principal and middle school principal jobs are being expanded to full-time roles, while the dean of students will work only at the high school.

The department also will hire a director of teaching and learning. That position will come at a cost of $108,532, which includes salary and benefits. Of that, $78,352 would be paid for from local funds, while $30,000 would be covered by federal funds.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: