Published in the January 13, 2017 edition.


WAKEFIELD – The Board of Selectmen got its first preliminary look at the town’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget last night, as Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio presented his budget preview.

Maio began with the town’s current financial position, noting that there is $3 million in the Stabilization Funds, $7 million in Free Cash, $300,000 in the Reserve Fund, $8 million in the OPEB (“other post-employment benefits”) Fund and $1.8 million in the Water/Sewer reserve fund for a total of close to $21 million in reserves.

Maio discussed priorities within the budget, calling public safety in the form of the Police and Fire Departments as the “number one priority.” Other priorities Maio presented were roads and sidewalks, drainage, capital improvements, business development, town employee union contracts and recreation activities.

Maio reminded the board of some of the fiscal policies established by the board a number of years ago. Those include maintaining Free Cash as 8 percent of operating revenue (the town currently is at 7 percent). Under the policy, Maio said, the town should have about $2 million in the Stabilization Fund (there is currently $3 million). He said that the town was currently right in line with its policy of maintaining the Reserve Fund at 0.5 percent of operating revenue.

In terms of revenues, Maio said that he could project the tax levy for FY 2018 at $66,215,000. He said that the amount of state aid was a tougher number to predict, but he placed it at $9,700,000 based on conservative estimates. Money from the School Building Authority (for the Woodville and Dolbeare Schools) was a known figure ($927,551) Maio said.

Maio projected local receipts (excise tax, meals tax, hotel tax, etc.) at an admittedly conservative $6,300,000. The Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department will pay the town $877,950 in lieu of taxes. The town will use $2,300,000 in Free Cash toward next year’s budget, Maio said.

Maio placed the amount from new growth (money in new taxation from new development) at $750,000. The total estimated revenue from Maio’s figures comes to just over $87,070,501.

In terms of expenses, Maio projected total operation budgets at about $58 million. Fixed costs (employee health insurance is the biggest piece) came in at $20,100,000 in Maio’s estimate. Maio set capital expenditures at $2,100,000, Town Meeting Articles at $2,000,000 and Debt Service at $2,833,000.

Maio called for $600,000 to be set aside in the Overlay Account (used to cover tax abatements). Maio estimated state and county assessments (biggest piece is the MBTA) at $1,573,174. Cherry Sheet offsets (goes directly to the library) were projected at $38,000.

Maio left Snow and Ice Overdraft as a question mark, depending on what kind of winter we have.

Total anticipated expenses, according to Maio’s estimate came to a total of $87,244,174. With projected revenues at $87,070,501, that leaves a deficit of $173,673. Maio said that he was not at all concerned about that figure at this early date, when no budgets have yet been presented, saying that the amount could be easily dealt with.

The Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee will start hearing budget presentations for FY 2018 in the coming weeks.


In other business this week, the Board of Selectmen:

• Approved a request from John J. McCarthy Jr., Town Treasurer, to transfer $457,725 from the Town’s capital projects account at The Savings Bank to the Town’s general fund so that the following bond payments can be paid: GMS interest $446,725; Athletic fields interest $11,000.

• Approved a request from Sharon Gilley Director of the Lucius Beebe Memorial Library to accept and expend a gift or gifts to the Library in the amount of $1,920.00 from various donors.

• Approved a request from Noel Bailey, Chairman for The Scholarship Foundation for a one-day Liquor License on Feb. 11, 2017 for the 25th Annual Trivia Team Challenge in the Parish Hall at St. Joseph Church.

• Re-appointed Kenneth Stache as Animal Control Officer.

• Appointed Elizabeth E. Ellis, 479 Lowell St. and Frances Cheney, 21 Walton St. to the Council on Aging.

• Approved a change of manager on the liquor license at Four Points at Sheraton Hotel on Audubon Road.