Hingham officials have begun the budget process for the coming fiscal year, which is projected see a 1.66 percent budget increase overall.
Town officials are working on finalizing each department's budget in the coming weeks as department heads visit with selectmen to discuss their needs and restrictions. At the moment, the town is facing a $1.2 million deficit for fiscal 2013, which begins July 1.
“Sounds like a large number. It is. But it’s much smaller than what previous numbers have been at this pint in time,” Town Administrator Ted Alexiades told selectmen last week.
“Included [in that number] is a $2 million outlay for capital expenditures…in the past we’ve lowered some of those to balance our budget. We’ll explore that again this year, but we’re in an area where we can balance this budget without substantial reductions to staff.”
The good news is revenues are expected to increase.
Currently the operating revenues for fiscal 2013 are projected to increase 2.74 percent, or by $2,334,290, primarily due to an increase of the tax levy allowed under Proposition 2 1/2, plus $850,000 of new growth.
New growth will include the continued development of Back River, Black Rock, and the residential component of the Shipyard. South Shore Hospital’s facility at 2 Pond Park Drive in South Hingham, and the Memory Care Center on Beal Street, have also yet to be realized.
There are also modest increases in revenues from self-supporting town entities, such as the South Shore Country Club and Sewer Department.
Local receipts are expected to remain flat.
Additionally, the town is forecasting level funding from state aid, though those numbers won’t be finalized until Governor Deval Patrick submits his budget in January to the Legislature.
Meanwhile, the operating budget is expected to increase $2.7 million. The increases are due to step increases as well as additional department needs.
The public safety budget will increase 2.81 percent to $10,235,904, which includes one additional officer for the Police Department.
Funding for the full first year of operations for the South Shore Regional Emergency Communications Center is also included. The harbormaster’s hours have also increased due to demand, and a web-based mooring permit billing and collection system will be purchased.
The public works budget of $6,782,585 for fiscal 2013 is a 1.97 percent increase from this year, which includes road reconstruction. Although a lot of money, it’s still nowhere near the necessary amount to fix all the town’s roads in need, Alexiades said.
The human services budget of $830,810 is a 2.28 percent increase, which allocates more money for food service inspections.
The culture and recreation budget will see a 0.87 percent increase to 1,445,348, and employee benefits will increase 3.98 percent to $13178,536 this year.
The School Cepartment has requested a 2 percent increase, but that will be vetted through the School Committee and given to selectmen with a later recommendation.
“Clearly as this budget is developing, its going to be difficult for the schools to come in at a 2 percent increase, and without help from the state there will be pressure to reduce,” Alexiades said, reminding selectmen that there is no stimulus money for the schools for next year.
Currently, except for the Board of Health, no recommended budgets include any reduction of staff. The Board of Health is recommending the reduction of hours for a nurse position.
Last week, selectmen recommended a 1.2 percent budget reduction for the treasurer collector’s office, a one percent reduction for Community Planning, a 5 percent decrease for Elder Services, an 8.45 percent reduction for the Board of Assessors, and a 5 percent increase for the Recreation Department.