Published in the July 3, 2015 edition
MELROSE — After trimming about $400,000 from a request made by Mayor Robert J. Dolan’s administration, the aldermen on June 25 passed a $72,485,827 city budget for the fiscal year that began Wednesday.
Among the fiscal year 2016 budget highlights:
• A 3.5 percent increase over fiscal year 2015 budget spending. The increases represent two new city positions, an increase in veterans benefits, a 5.5 percent increase in the cost of health insurance for employees and contractual salary increases. The included School Department budget calls for two more kindergarten teachers and two more elementary teachers because of increased population in the elementary school grades.
• Funding for a complete renovation of the old resource center at the high school/middle school complex, turning it into an innovative, 21st century Learning Commons that will benefit our students and our entire community.
• The budget reflects, in Dolan’s words, the “positive effects” of rezoning our railroad corridor. “This is pro-business, pro-investment and allows entrepreneurs to thrive in our community. As a result, we have seen the largest increase in private investment in our city’s history.”
• Continued repairs to the aging Hoover and Winthrop schools, as well as upgrades to the fire headquarters’ roof and badly outdated firefighters’ living quarters.
• Upgrades to the Common Playground and Early Childhood Center Playground at the Franklin School.
• Funding for a school demographic study and an update to the city’s Master Plan.
• Continued funding for the city’s on-going drainage program, addressing flooding in identified neighborhoods.
• Continued investment in the city’s Stabilization Fund, which keeps the city on track to pay off 75 percent of its debt in 10 years.