Watertown’s budget looks much better than the first glance in November, said Town Manager Michael Driscoll when he presented the Fiscal 2013 budget, Tuesday night.
The total Fiscal 2013 budget will be $102.3 million, up $2.11 million from the previous year, a 2.11 percent increase.
The town will receive $522,339 more than Fiscal 2012, Driscoll said, which is far rosier than the $1.3 million cut he was preparing for in November.
“That’s the good news,” Driscoll said. “The disappointing news is that local aid is $2.8 million less than Fiscal 2009.”
The budget includes enough funds to maintain the same level of staffing for the Police and Fire departments.
The police will maintain 65 uniformed officers, including 47 on patrol, along with 9 dispatchers and school crossing guards. The Police Department’s budget is $242,704 more than Fiscal 2012.
The Fire Department will continue to have 83 firefighters in uniform, included in the budget that is $365,327 more than Fiscal 2012. Money has been set aside in the budget to pay for potential raises if the contract is settled with the firefighters union, Driscoll said.
The education funding will meet the increase requested by the School Committee – a $1.19 million increase, or a 3.5 percent increase.
“This budget continues the town’s very strong commitment to education,” Driscoll said.
Driscoll said town officials will look at ways to combine or merge services, such as facilities management, information technology, human resources and finance operations.
The Public Works budget will allow the department to continue to have 33 full-time and two part-time employees. The snow plowing budget will be just over $1 million, a $137,000 increase over Fiscal 2012, but less than the seven year average of $1.15 million.
Money has been included in the Fiscal 2013 budget so the Watertown Free Public Library can stay open late on Fridays – until 7 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. – all year long. This year the extra hours were provided using money from a special transfer of town funds.
The Town Council will go into detailed discussions with each department during a series of budget hearings, Town Council President Mark Sideris said.
Dates for the Town Council Budget Hearings:
- May 14
- May 22, after the Town Council meeting
- May 29
- May 31
- June 5