Yes, absolutely – and that is why it has been so long since the last Override. The town government and school department for several years have collaboratively undertaken many different methods to bring in more revenue and to cut expenses and do things more efficiently. Residents that have followed the annual budget process through Town Meeting have been keenly aware of these efforts and that an Override request has been delayed for about five years longer than expected. Here’s a quick summary of the most important things the town and schools have done to ensure taxpayer value in recent years:
Invest to save: spent $4 million on energy improvements for most town and school buildings – for the first 12 years the energy savings will pay the cost of the debt service and starting in 2025 those savings will be available to spend on other priorities; create Special Education programs ‘in-district’ in order to provide an educationally better experience for students and to save when compared to the cost of out of district placements.
Invest for revenues: Fire department advanced life support that brings in $800,000 of annual revenues.
Restructuring: reorganized some town hall departments in order to eliminate positions but not affect service levels; regionalize/share positions with other towns; combine part-time jobs to save the cost of employee benefits.
Operational efficiency: new weekly recycling requirements saved on rubbish costs; technology has had impacts in almost every department.
Financial planning: The town enjoys a AAA rating because it has implemented best practices in almost every way possible. A simple example is that in 2006 the town spent 6.8% of the budget on debt service, and almost 40% of that was on unproductive interest costs. Today the town spends only 2.1% on debt service, and only 20% of that is on interest costs. If the past practice had continued, the town and school budgets would need to be reduced by over $4 million annually.
Fees and Revolving funds: There are new sources of revenues ranging from the meals tax to increased school activities fees.