Category Archives: Financial

Budget calendar

At the select board meeting on 6/4/19, Town Administrator Kristine Trierweiler distributed her draft calendar for the budget cycle for this coming year.  This was music to my ears, as the sort of structure I have hoped to see for quite some time.  I have inserted the calendar below and here via a link if you instead want a PDF –  20190604-Kristine Trierweiler-budget calendar

This is the sort of institutionalizing of a structure for the town government that we have been needing, so that all residents can understand how and when we make the sausages, and I am looking forward to more such protocols being implemented.

FY2021 B~dget Planning Calendar DRAFT • Month Due By Responsible Event TA Town Administ rator June 6/1/ 2019 ACC Preliminary Audit Begins BOS Board of Selectmen 6/4/2019 BOS Regular BOS Meeting we Warrant Committee 6/12/2019 DH Mont ly Department Head Meeting TC Treasurer/Collector 6/15/2019 ASR Annual Preliminary Commitment ASR Assessors 6/17/2019 we Final Meeting to vote RFT/Appropriation Transfers ACC Accounting 6/18/2019 BOS Regular BOS Meeting CBC Capital Budget Committee 6/30/2019 DH Submit Capital Budget Requests sc School Committee 6/30/2019 T/C Prelinary Tax Bills Q1 for RE/Personal Property Mailed DH Department Heads 6/30/2019 ACC Close of the FY19 Budget Year 6/30/2019 ACC Close Overlay Surplus t o Free Cash July 7/1/2019 All Sta rt of FY2020 7/9/2019 BOS Regular BOS Meeting 7/10/2019 DH Monthly Department Head Meeting 7/23/2019 BOS Regular BOS Meeting 7/23/2019 BOS Town Administrat or Evaluation 7/31/2019 BOS Identify Goals for FY21 Budget 7/31/2019 BOS Annual Committee Appointments BiWeekly CBC Capit al Budget Review August 8/1/2019 TC Quarter #1 RE Tax Bills Due 8/13/2019 BOS Regular BOS Meeting 8/27/ 2019 BOS Regular BOS Meeting 8/30/2019 CBC Capit al Budget Recommendations and Development of 5 Year Plan 8/ 27/2019 TA End of FY2020 Budget Review20190604-Kristine Trierweiler-budget calendar_Page_220190604-Kristine Trierweiler-budget calendar_Page_3

Property tax relief for seniors

fy17-dor-average-tax-bill-map

Many towns are now providing some property taxes relief for seniors.  I think Sudbury was the first to initiate doing so and got special legislation to allow the town to help its economically more needy seniors by shifting part of their taxes to the rest of the residents.

At the Massachusetts Selectmen Association meeting I attended Saturday I spoke with Jonathan, a Wakefield Select board member (it is a 7 member board), learned they are doing so too, and he got me information on their program from their Assessor (copy attached below).

First, below are my notes from when I spoke with the Sudbury Assessor and got its system.  This is their PowerPoint from their town meeting:  2018 ATM Article 15 Senior Means Tested Exemption Presentation

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Telephone call to Cynthia Gerry, Assessor – assessors@sudbury.ma.us | (978) 639 – 3393
a. 2012 special legislation
b. Renewed a couple of times
c. In place through FY21
d. Senior means program
e. Linked to circuit breaker
f. Long time resident who qualify for circuit breaker can qualify for property tax relief
g. Well received
h. FY14 was first year
i. Average of about 110 applicants
j. Not funded by overlay, so residential exemption funded
k. Benefit cap was at 0.5% of total levy
l. The Board of Selectmen can increase it to 1%, but have not gone that high
m. $400K last year, about 0.5%
n. Pay about 10% of circuit breaker income plus 10% of circuit breaker income
o. Asset component to legislation, but vague and up to the board of assessors to use
i. No set limit
ii. Do get a financial statement
p. Deferral of RE taxes
i. Age 60
ii. Income matches circuit breaker ($86K)
iii. 2% rate
iv. Mortgage companies will not agree, as town becomes first lien holder
q. She will email me info

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Second, this is the email from the Assessor for Wakefield, who appears to also be the Asessor for Reading, describing his program  –

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Hey Pete and Jonathan,

 

Yup, I did this in Reading and we’re going to do it in Wakefield.  I can’t count the number of friends and colleagues that have reached out to me on this important topic.

 

Reading plan is simple:

 

Senior must receive the Senior Circuit Breaker Income Tax Credit.  Pls see state guidelines.

Senior is 65 and co-applicant at least 60

Own and occupy home in the town for 10 years.

No other significant assets (tough to define as it’s one of those ‘I’l know it when I see it’ things, second home, etc)

 

In Reading, the benefit is anywhere from 50% to 200% of their CB credit.

Cost is shifted onto the Residential class of property

 

Wakefield is similar except that the credit is simply a 100% match.  No disrespect intended but politics and taxes don’t mix

 

My models rely on receipt of the CB Credit.  I did this because it’s already a state sponsored means test.  Any changes like house value, assets, etc. would result in a local means test like a couple of towns have.  I have about 650 people that receive the CB credit in each town.  In Reading for FY 2018 195 applied and 183 were approved at 200% relief but, too much relief has an unintended consequence whereby some folks lost their CB credit the following year.  FY 2019 Reading did 150% and 177 received it. I anticipate more folks being eligible for Fy 2020.  Moreover, since it involves a shift in the tax rate, the application time is the month of August to allow me enough time for tax rate computation.

 

Hope this helps and feel free to email any further questions that you may have.

 

Best,

 

Victor

How do we compare?

This is from the Division of Local Services (DLS) e-newsletter.  USE THE LINK BELOW TO COMPARE TOWNS – I just learned that the per capita income in Weston is $351K, which makes me want to move there and have a big family –

DLS

Databank Highlight of the Month: Updated Community Comparison Report
Donnette Benvenuto – Municipal Databank

The new and improved Community Comparison Report is now up and running. It can be found on the front page of the Municipal Databank. If you have used this report in the past, you will be in for a treat. The updated report is sleek, streamlined and very user friendly. Still drawing on 65 data elements, each of the seven easily accessible tabs on the top of the page pulls the information from multiple data sources onto one page. This provides a snapshot of your data removing the often tedious task of scrolling and scrolling found on the old report.

Using any of the 12 different search criteria on each heading refines your search across all the tabs. If you are looking to see what communities with a population between 30,000 and 50,000 with an annual budget between $50 million and $90 million, you just enter that criteria and it will carry over to each tab. Since the search criteria carries over, the Community Comparison report essentially does the work for you.

In the report you can quickly extract the most current available comparative municipal finance and demographic data for multiple communities, it eliminates the frustrating task of opening numerous spreadsheets to sort, cut and paste data to compare. A simple click and you can download your information into Excel. Please contact us if you need any help using the application atdatabank@dor.state.ma.us.

MMA on budget in Senate

The Senate actually seems more willing than the House to look at the revenue side of the equation, and seek out new revenue.

MMA-3

SENATE PREPARING FOR FY20 BUDGET DEBATE

Please Call Your Senators Today and Ask them to Support Key Municipal and School Aid Priorities!

 

May 1, 2019

 

Dear Osler Peterson,

 

Now that the House of Representatives has adopted their proposed fiscal 2020 state budget, all attention has turned to the Senate. The Senate Ways & Means Committee is developing a separate spending plan, and we expect to see a Senate budget committee recommendation within the next two weeks. This is the time to call your Senators to emphasize the importance of full funding for municipal and school aid priorities!

 

This is a great time to check in with your Senators – so that you can ask your Senators to contact the budget committee before the Senate Ways & Means budget is released. After the budget is released, Senators will be scrambling to file amendments, and then the debate will occur during a whirlwind of activity over 3 or 4 days.

 

The MMA testified at the joint House and Senate Ways & Means Committee’s budget hearing in Fall River on March 18, and our budget testimony provides excellent talking points on the major municipal and school aid priorities.

 

Please click here to read a copy of MMA’s budget testimony

 

Please click here to read MMA’s article summarizing the changes made by Representatives during last week’s House budget debate

 

Please talk to your Senators about these budget accounts and any others that might be a local priority.

 

Last year, there were almost 1,200 proposed amendments filed when the Senate debated the budget. The Senate Ways & Means recommendation may not be the last word on the Senate spending plan, but individual Senators will have their greatest influence from now through the end of the floor debate. That’s why it is so important for you to contact them now to discuss the budget items that matter most to you.

 

Here are some of the priority highlights to discuss:

 

UNRESTRICTED GENERAL GOVERNMENT AID (UGGA) – Ask your Senators to fund the UGGA account at $1.13 billion, which would provide an increase of $29.7 million, or 2.7 percent, consistent with the “consensus” state tax revenue growth forecast. The House and Governor’s budgets do this.

 

REFORMING AND INCREASING PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING – There are a number of Chapter 70 funding issues:

 

  • Ask your Senators to implement the consensus Foundation Budget Review Commission reforms, including funding for employee benefits, special education costs, low-income students, and English Language Learners (the House provides a $218 million increase to Chapter 70, while the Governor is proposing a $200 million increase.)

 

  • Ask your Senators to end the damage caused by the flawed charter school finance system (the House is proposing $23 million more for charter school reimbursements, which is $7 million more than the Governor’s budget, but still far below full funding), and ask for a permanent solution, such as a cap on Chapter 70 diversions to charter schools, in the separate education finance bill that will be debated later in the session.

 

  • Ask your Senators for adequate minimum aid of $100 per student (the House is proposing $30 per student, and the Governor is offering $20 per student), so that no community is left behind, and all districts receive an adequate increase.

 

  • Ask your Senators to add funding to address the unique challenges facing rural schools, especially those with declining enrollment.

 

SPECIAL EDUCATION CIRCUIT BREAKER – Ask your Senators to support full funding of the Special Education Circuit Breaker Program. (The House underfunds this account by approximately $15 million, while the Governor’s budget is $20 million short.)

 

STUDENT TRANSPORTATION REIMBURSEMENTS – Ask your Senators to support full funding for: 1) reimbursements to regional school districts; 2) the transportation of homeless students under the McKinney-Vento program; and 3) transporting out-of-district vocational students.

 

PAYMENTS IN LIEU OF TAXES (PILOT) – Ask your Senators to support increased funding for the Commonwealth’s obligations and commitments to the program for Payments in Lieu of Taxes for state-owned land (PILOT), at a minimum including funds to hold communities harmless from changes in property valuation.

 

Please Call Your Senators Today to Support Municipal and School Accounts!

 

Thank You Very Much!!

Town Meeting Monday – 7PM

From the Moderator, Scott McDermott – NB starts at 7PM, not 7:30

2019 ANNUAL TOWN MEETING INVITATION Friends and neighbors: When spring comes to Medfield, it becomes my pleasure to invite you to attend our Annual Town Meeting next Monday evening, April 29, 2019 at 7:00pm at the Amos Clark Kingsbury High School gymnasium. Please note that 7:00pm is our new starting time. I encourage all voters to come to Town Meeting. Together we are the legislative branch. Our collective determinations next Monday continue to set the course of Medfield’s future. Our votes become local laws and regulations; the budgets approved will determine the town’s operating and capital expenditures. I’m pleased to report, compared to the last three years, the coming Town Meeting will consider a significantly smaller agenda of warrant articles. It should be a very straight- forward evening conducting the town’s business. . Thank you for your consideration of this invitation. I hope to see many of you. May we all have a great spring and summer here in our special spot on the east bank of the Charles River. All the best, Scott Scott F. McDermott Town Moderator TOWN OF MEDFIELD Scott F. McDermott Town Moderator I encourage you to review the Report on the Warrant recently mailed to every resident of Medfield. The Report contains the text of all of the articles coming before the Town Meeting. Importantly, the Report (pages 5 to 17) also contains a highly informative snapshot of Medfield’s finances. We have a special place to call our home. We value education, community, open space, safe streets and homes, the well-being of the young and the well-being of the old, quality municipal services, and the advancement of local commerce. It takes hard work and open communication to do the work of self-government. Our Annual Town Meeting, even with all of its imperfections, is the night we gather to speak with one another and deliberate as a law-making body. Please join us at Town Meeting on Monday evening. Scott New Start Time20190425-SM-Town Meeting Invitation_Page_2

$40K more for town in House budget

$40K more for town in House budget

Email today from Representative Denise Garlick to Kristine Trierweiler announces the Medfield state aid amount in the House’s Ways and Means Committee’s proposed budget that has just been released (Rep. Garlick is now the Vice-Chair of Ways & Means).

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I just wanted to share with you the preliminary local aid numbers for the town of Medfield:

Unrestricted Local Aid-$1,539,280

Increase of $40,468 from FY19

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Massachusetts Municipal Association email with respect to the proposed House budget:

MMA-3

 

HOUSE W&M COMMITTEE OFFERS $42.7B FY 2020 BUDGET WITH KEY INVESTMENTS IN MUNICIPAL & SCHOOL AID

• INCLUDES THE FULL $29.7M INCREASE IN UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID (UGGA)

• INCREASES CHAPTER 70 BY $218M TO FUND MINIMUM AID AT $30 PER STUDENT

• INCREASES CHARTER SCHOOL REIMBURSEMENTS BY $23M

• ADDS $16.5M RESERVE FOR LOW-INCOME STUDENTS

• ADDS $5M TO THE SPECIAL EDUCATION CIRCUIT BREAKER

• ADDS $5M MORE FOR REGIONAL SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION

• ADDS $1M TO McKINNEY-VENTO REIMBURSEMENTS

• LEVEL-FUNDS MOST OTHER MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL ACCOUNTS

 

April 10, 2019

 

Dear Osler Peterson,

 

Earlier today, the House Ways & Means Committee reported out a $42.7 billion fiscal 2020 state budget plan to increase overall state expenditures by 3 percent. The House Ways & Means budget’s bottom line closely matches the budget filed by the Governor in January, yet allocates significantly more for school aid programs. The Chapter 70 aid increase is $17.7 million higher than the amount recommended by the Governor, by increasing minimum aid from $20 per student to $30 per student, and adopting a slightly different method of implementing the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission. The full House will debate the fiscal 2020 state budget during the week of April 22. House members must file all budget amendments by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 12. (Usually, the House considers over 1000 amendments during budget debate week.)

 

H. 3800, the House Ways & Means budget, provides progress on many important local aid priorities, including the full $29.7 million increase in Unrestricted General Government Aid that the Governor proposed and communities are counting on. The House W&M Committee would increase funding for other major aid programs, by adding $5 million to the Special Education Circuit Breaker, adding $5 million to Regional School Transportation, $1 million to McKinney-Vento reimbursements, and increasing Chapter 70 aid by $218 million more than fiscal 2019 levels.

 

Please Click this Link Now to See the HW&M Chapter 70 and Unrestricted Municipal Aid Numbers for Your Community

 

By Friday or Early Next Week – Click on this Link to See Your Community’s Local Aid and Preliminary Cherry Sheet Numbers in the House Ways & Means Budget, as Posted by the Division of Local Services:

https://www.mass.gov/lists/cherry-sheet-estimates

 

$29.7 MILLION INCREASE IN UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID

In a major victory for cities and towns, the HW&M fiscal 2020 budget plan would provide $1.128 billion for UGGA, a $29.7 million increase over current funding – the same increase proposed by Governor Baker. The $29.7 million would increase UGGA funding by 2.7 percent, which matches the projected growth in state tax collections next year. Every city and town would see their UGGA funding increase by 2.7 percent.

 

CHAPTER 70 MINIMUM AID WOULD INCREASE TO $30 PER STUDENT

The House budget committee is proposing a $218 million increase in Chapter 70 education aid (this is $17.7 million higher than the $200.3 million increase in House One), with a provision that every city, town and school district receive an increase of at least $30 per student (compared to the $20-per-student amount in the Governor’s budget). This represents meaningful progress, yet most communities would only receive minimum aid, which is why MMA members adopted a resolution in January calling for $100 in per-student aid as a minimum increase.

 

HW&M IS PROPOSING HIGHER CH. 70 SPENDING IN FISCAL 2020, YET MAJOR SCHOOL FINANCE LEGISLATION WILL BE CONSIDERED LATER THIS YEAR, NOT AS PART OF THE BUDGET DEBATE

House leaders are committed to action on major permanent updates to the Chapter 70 school finance formula this year. However, that legislation is still before the Joint Committee on Education, and will not be ready for deliberation and debate until after the House budget moves forward. Because of this, the House Ways & Means budget is taking a one-year approach to more aggressively implement many of the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission, but is not advancing permanent law changes, which will come as part of the school finance bill. The budget committee’s proposal builds on the Governor’s fiscal 2020 submission, increasing the state’s factors for health insurance, special education, English Language Learners, and low-income students. Because the House has a slightly different methodology than the Governor, Chapter 70 calculations may be slightly different for some communities and districts (not the minimum-aid communities). Combined with higher minimum aid, these foundation calculations are the reason why the HW&M budget would provide $17.7 million more Chapter 70 aid than the Governor.

 

In addition, the House budget committee is proposing a $16.5 million reserve fund for low-income student adjustments to ensure accurate counting of low-income students and ensure that additional funds are available to fund low-income student formula changes that may come later.

 

CHARTER SCHOOL REIMBURSEMENTS WOULD INCREASE BY $23M, UP TO A NEW HIGH OF $113M

HW&M is proposing a $23 million increase in Charter School Reimbursements, bringing the program up to $113 million from the current $90 million level. This is $7 million more than the Governor’s budget, and is very much appreciated. The total is still far below full funding of the statutory formula. The budget committee is also adopting the Governor’s recommendation to change the 6-year funding schedule of 100-25-25-25-25-25 to a new 3-year 100-60-40 schedule, and make other adjustments in the program. Because there are so many factors in play, municipal leaders will need to analyze their own specific charter school tuition assessments and reimbursement amounts to see if this provides relief.

 

The MMA continues to believe that the charter school finance system is deeply flawed, and a permanent fix should include a cap on Chapter 70 diversions to charter schools. No matter what changes are made to the Chapter 70 formula, problems will continue unless a true resolution of the charter school funding problem is integrated into any reform or update of the school finance system.

 

HW&M PROVIDES $5 MILLION MORE TO SPECIAL EDUCATION CIRCUIT BREAKER, GETTING CLOSER TO FULL FUNDING

The House budget would add $5 million more than the Governor, to fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker program at $328.9 million. This is progress in the right direction, because the Governor’s budget underfunded SPED reimbursements by $20 million, which means the account is still $15 million below full funding. The MMA will again be asking lawmakers to ensure full funding in fiscal 2020.

 

HW&M PROVIDES $5 MILLION MORE FOR REGIONAL SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION REIMBURSEMENTS

Gov. Baker’s budget submission would level-funded regional transportation reimbursements at $68.9 million, and the HW&M budget would provide a much-needed $5 million increase. Reimbursements for transportation of out-of-district vocational students remains significantly underfunded at $250K. Increasing these accounts is a priority for cities and towns.

 

HW&M PROVIDES $1 MILLION MORE FOR McKINNEY-VENTO REIMBURSEMENTS

The Governor’s budget would level-fund reimbursements for the transportation of homeless students at $9.1 million, and the House budget committee would raise this to $10.1 million. The impact of this funding level will vary from community-to-community depending on the number of homeless families that remain sheltered in local hotels and motels. The state has been successful in reducing the number of homeless students who are dislocated from their original district, but those communities that continue to provide transportation to many students may continue to see shortfalls.

 

PAYMENTS-IN-LIEU-OF-TAXES (PILOT), LIBRARY AID, and SHANNON GRANTS

The Governor’s and HW&M budgets would level fund PILOT payments at $28.48 million, which would create a hardship for smaller communities with large amounts of state-owned property, and library grant programs would stay flat at $19.8 million; and Shannon anti-gang grants would increase by $1 million up to $9 million.

 

SUMMARY

In the context of a tight budget year, with revenue growth of only 2.7%, it is clear that House leaders are prioritizing K-12 education funding and other increases for cities and towns, and this is deeply appreciated.

 

During the budget debate and legislative session, the MMA will work to build on this progress, and will continue to prioritize full funding for the Foundation Budget Review Commission’s recommendations and permanent improvements to Chapter 70, fixing the serious problems caused by the current charter school funding system, securing higher minimum aid increases, achieving full funding for all state municipal and school reimbursement programs, and providing higher PILOT funding and aid for rural regional school districts.

 

Please Call Your Representatives Today to Thank Them for the Local Aid Investments in the House Ways and Means Committee Budget – Which Increases Key Municipal and School Aid Accounts by $298.2 Million Above Fiscal 2019, and $45.2 Million More than the Governor’s Budget

 

Please Explain How the House Ways and Means Budget Impacts Your Community, and Ask Your Representatives to Build on this Progress During Budget Debate in the House

 

Thank You!

 

 

Massachusetts Municipal Association

1 Winthrop Square

Boston, MA 02110

(617) 426-7272 | Email Us | View our website

 

 

 

Unsubscribe from MMA Legislative Alert Emails

 

 

Your tax bill

The Division of Local Services (DLS) of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue sends me emails with lots of data.  I was especially interested to see our colleagues in pain on the attached chart of what towns pay for property taxes.  Look at it on-line here

FY19AvgSFTBAmount

This lists the towns paying the ten highest and lowest property taxes – we must be just off the high list:

tax bills-highest-2019

This was that same list from last year (which makes me wonder what sources of revenue Concord and Sudbury found to be able to lower their taxes):

tax bills-highest -fy18