Published January 31, 2020
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — The local FY 2021 budget process continued this week as the Town Council gave its blessing to eight more smaller departmental budgets. All budgets are also reviewed by the Finance Committee before going before the voters at Town Meeting on May 4.
Town Accountant Kevin Gill presented the numbers for each budget. Jan DiGiambatista, chair of the FinCom subcommittee on Town Hall budgets, was also on hand to provide input.
Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio also offered a brief preamble, noting that the budgets presented so far represent an overall increase of 2.66 percent over last year. He did note that the town’s supervisory union contract has not yet been settled. If an agreement is reached, the overall budget increase would be at about 3 percent, Maio said.
Gill began with the Town Treasurer’s budget. Treasurer John J. McCarthy Jr. was on hand for the presentation. Gill said that an increase of $7,376 was requested for this budget, all of it related to negotiated contractual salary increases. The total budget request was for $219,929. The Town Council approved the Treasurer’s budget with no discussion.
The Tax Collector’s budget was up $5,176, Gill said, all of which was in personal services for contractual salary increases. The total request was for $279,162. Councilor Jonathan Chines asked Tax Collector Kathleen Kelly if any thought had been given to going paperless with tax bills. Kelly said that going to an email system would involve using another vendor for that process and would not result in a cost saving over mailing out paper bills.
The Town Council approved the Tax Collector’s budget.
Gill said that the Assessors Department was requesting an increase of $5,927. Director of Assessments Victor Santaniello was on hand to answer any questions. The total budget of $242,671 was approved with no discussion.
The Town Clerk’s budget reflected a requested increase of $9,000, including negotiated contractual salary increases. Gill noted that the Town Clerk’s Office generates about $70,000 in revenue annually from fees. The Town Council approved the total budget of $224,462.
Town Clerk Betsy Sheeran was on hand for her department’s budget and the next one, the Election and Registration budget. Gill said that the Election and Registration budget was decreased by about $3,300. The Town Council approved the overall budget of $37,700.
The Planning Board budget was approved at a level-funded 12,975.
The Board of Health budget was approved at $269,040, including an increase of $12,522. Gill said that the increase included contractual salary increases as well as an adjustment for professional services related to the contract with Melrose. Wakefield and Melrose have a combined Health Department under a shared services agreement.
Finally, the Town Council approved the Medicare budget at $793,490, including an increase of $37,490 over last year.
In other business this week, the Town Council:
• Set the date for the Annual Town Meeting for May 4, 2020 and set the date to close the Town Meeting warrant at March 26 at 4:30 p.m.
• Approved the renewal of a Class II (used care sales) license for Fahey Auto Sales at 28 New Salem St.
• Renewed the Class II auto sales license of J&A Autobody, located at 1273 Main St.
• Granted a new Class I (new car sales) license to Albrecht Buick GMC, located at 614 North Ave.
• Approved a one-day liquor license for the Annual “Blossoms at the Beebe” event at Beebe Library on May 2, 2020.
• Signed a Wakefield Sewer Bond in the amount of $188,397.50 to be repaid to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority in annual installments of $18,839.73 from 2021 to 2030.
• Referred three Zoning Bylaw changes to the Planning Board for public hearings.