Braintree's Town Council has unanimously approved a $106 million budget and a $4.6 million capital plan for fiscal 2014, numbers that will not only bring in more teachers, firefighters, and policemen, but also allow for town building projects, street renovations, and equipment purchases.
Councilors passed the capital plan numbers at a meeting on May 21, and unanimously approved the budget during a May 28 meeting, neither of which involved much controversy.
"The budge is a good and forward thinking [budget," said Councilor Paul "Dan" Clifford, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. "...Braintree stands to benefit from accelerated capital spending and infrastructure needs and at the same time benefit from the economic of very low bonding rates."
Clifford called the budget "a big win for Braintree," and said the taxpayers should feel the lighter burden in future years to come.
Council President Chuck Kokoros echoed the sentiments.
“The overall budget basically was well crafted by the mayor’s department, by all the department heads in the mayor’s staff, and it was done in a thoughtful way so that we wouldn’t put ourselves in any financial constraints,” said Town Council President Chuck Kokoros. “A lot of that is to maintain a strong operating budget so all the departments have the required budgetary amounts to operate efficiently and give residents of Braintree the services that they deserve through their tax payment.”
The budget represents a $4.9 million increase over the fiscal 2013, which ends June 30. Of that increase, $2.2 million will go to an increase in Human Resources for employee services.
The schools represent the other large increase, of $2.1 million, which will not only adhere to contractual obligations and step increases, but also bring in several more teachers and other staff.
“We were able to increase the school budget by $2 million. We’re able to keep up with the demands in the school system, make sure our children are getting the best education they can through Braintree Public Schools, and once again we were happy to invest in the school department as well,” Kokoros said. “We were able to fund additional police officers and additional firefighters in this year’s budget. These are positions to bring our numbers to an area where we feel the town will be even safer.”
The town will also dedicate a hefty sum to a number of projects in town, funded through both the town’s budget as well as through borrowing.
In borrowed money, the town will conduct $1.7 million in roadwork as part of the town’s 100 Roads Program.
Additionally, the bonded money will allow for $700,000 in school remodeling projects, $300,000 in school roadway resurfacing, as well as $279,000 in school security updates.
Other upgrades include $100,000 for Thayer Public Library, $140,000 in Police Building repairs, $268,000 in Fire Building improvements, and $652,000 for a slew of Department of Public Works projects.
The town will also use money from within the budget for a number of equipment purchases for police and public works, including $32,000 for a fire vehicle, $33,000 for police radio replacements, and $41,500 for a public works pickup and mower.
Kokoros credited the newly approved 0.75 percent meals tax, which takes effect in July, for allowing the town to contribute to so many capital projects.
“The previous week we voted on the capital budget, which includes a number of roads and building to be repaired. We’ve been able to enhance that because of the meals tax, which will allow us to do anywhere from $700,000 to $800,000 more capital improvements in the 2014 fiscal year,” Kokoros said.