NEWTON — The Town Council will meet remotely via Zoom this evening to hold a public hearing on budget amendments and hold a final vote on the town’s 2020 budget.
The amendment is to add nearly $60,000 from surplus in the 2019 budget to this year’s spending package to help cover increased costs to the town from the coronavirus pandemic.
The amended budget also assumes the loss of about $160,000 in revenues to the town compared with the 2019 budget and makes several changes internally to offset the other $100,000 in losses.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. Public participation is available by calling one of these numbers: 929-205-6099; 312-626-6799; or 301-715-8592.
The amendment was introduced at the board’s meeting two weeks ago and needed a resolution, subject to tonight’s public hearing, because the budget had already been introduced in March.
Although there are changes in the budget’s bottom lines of revenues and expenses, the tax rate proposed when the budget was first introduced in March has not changed.
As presented by Town Manager Thomas Russo on March 10, before the coronavirus pandemic caused shutdowns of businesses and stay-at-home orders were issued, the budget shows the same tax increase of $36 on the average home. The average home value increased from $184,841 in 2019 to $185,150 for 2020. That results in a municipal tax bill of $2,767 on that “average” house.
The municipal tax rate will be about $1.50 per $100 of assessed value.
The amended budget before the council tonight anticipates about $95,000 in losses to town revenues because of economic consequences, such as a drop of about $22,000 in hotel taxes, another $20,000 in court fines, and roughly $24,000 in other fees.
The practically snow-less winter will help as the budget now anticipates a savings of about $40,000 for salaries and wages for snow removal. There is also a more than $30,000 drop in salaries for community development and about $32,000 in police salaries, although there is an increase in police overtime due to the coronavirus.
In addition to the budget, the council is also expected to declare the construction of the new Firehouse #2 as complete and take a vote on the water and sewer utility budget and hold two public hearings on capital projects for the Water Department.