Pandemic devastates town budget

May 5, 2020

The pandemic will take a heavy toll on the town’s budget, as revenues from meals, hotels, new homes, and other sources fall while the town is in lockdown. State aid will also drop.

At Tuesday night’s Board of Selectmen meeting, Town Administrator Derek Sullivan estimated that the town’s budget would be about 2.6 million dollars lower than initially planned for fiscal year 2021, which begins on July 1. The budget was initially set at $70,426,422.

The heaviest projected hit is to school funding from the state. Sullivan estimates that the Chapter 70 funding for schools will drop by about $1.4 million. Other state aid will drop by nearly $400,000.

Meal tax revenue will be down by about $212,000, and taxes on hotels and motels will drop by about $140,000. Revenue from licenses and permits will likely drop by about $200,000.

Additionally, Sullivan said that the town will lose out on revenue due to the Governor’s temporary ban on the sale of adult-use marijuana. 

Sullivan has already identified some “low-hanging fruit” to balance the budget. 

He recommended paying into the town’s unemployment funds with free cash, which would need to be approved by Town Meeting.

With changes to worker’s compensation, liability, and debt, he could bring the deficit down to about $2.2 million.

Sullivan urged against using all of the town’s stabilization fund at once, and instead suggested using small amounts of the fund over time.

“This could be a multi-year impact to our funding,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan also requested that his pay be frozen, forgoing a planned increase.