WINTHROP — Four months into the fiscal year, the town is facing more than $400,000 of unexpected increases to the council-approved municipal budget.

Town councilors voted 4-to-2 Monday to carry forward $404,347 of unspent money from the last budget year to cover the costs that have exceeded their projections — and prevent any tax increases.

The biggest chunk of that funding will go toward heating and vehicle fuel.

Councilors James Steele and Linda Caprara were opposed to the motion, citing concerns that $400,000 was a substantial increase to make without taking a closer look at the situation and exploring more affordable alternatives.

The council had initially approved a $17,815,400 budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

Council Chair Sarah Fuller said that the money will go toward items that the town had already voted to fund and that using the unspent money will allow the town to meet those commitments.


The town will compensate for higher-than-expected heating and vehicle fuel costs by using $145,311 worth of unspent money from its overlay account. The council set the fuel budget based on prices from December 2021, according to Finance Director Vernice Boyce, and the cost of fuel has increased greatly since then.

Administrative services is the second-largest area to see an increase at $127,775, and includes $45,000 more for a plow truck, $25,000 more for a new boat for the fire department, $15,000 for two transfer station trailers and $5,000 for shelving at the library.

Since health insurance did not increase as much as the town anticipated, Boyce said Winthrop had a good amount of carry-forward funds under administrative services to put toward these increases. 

Additionally, $100,000 will be carried forward from accrued compensated absences, and $3,961 will be carried from general assistance to cover any additional services, if needed.

Another $9,300 will be used for work on an uncovered part of the floor in the clerk’s office, which Boyce said is a trip hazard. And $18,000 will be used for consulting on the town’s comprehensive plan. Boyce said this was put in the budget for the 2022 fiscal year but that the work did not get completed in time.

Steele asked Boyce if, in reference to administrative items such as the boat, trailers or plow truck, this would result in adding more money to a budget that the town already passed.


“Correct,” she said, “because what we got for estimated prices to purchase those items back when we were putting this budget together, the actual price now that we’re getting ready to purchase is considerably higher.”

Fuller also reiterated that the town is using unspent money from the previous year.

“We’re not going back out and saying ‘give us more money,'” said Fuller.

“It’s not going to raise your taxes,” said Boyce. “It’s unspent money.”

Steele said this clarification was helpful, but that he still wanted clarification on some of the other items, such as why $25,000 more is needed for the fire department’s boat.

“I don’t think we need $25,000 for a fire boat. We have one,” he said, “And what are we doing with the old one?”


Fuller said the boat currently owned by the town is not adequate to meet the department’s needs. Officials from the Winthrop Fire Department did not respond to inquiries about the vessel by press time.

The town originally budgeted $102,000 for the new boat based on an estimate, but that price has since increased to $127,000, according to Town Manager Jeff Kobrock.

Steele said he would rather see the council speak with town officials about these increases before giving the additional funding his blessing.

Caprara agreed, and said the council could take a closer look and choose not to spend some of the carry-forward money.

“We already chose to spend it,” Fuller said. “These are what the things cost. These are priorities that were identified and voted for in the budget.”

The council ultimately voted by majority to accept the carry-forward funding, with Caprara and Steele opposed.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. 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: