The Board of Selectmen meets with interim DPW Superintendent David Nuvallie to review costs in his department during a review of the budget.
ADAMS, Mass. — The town expects to see an overall budget increase of 1.58 percent for fiscal 2015, up to $13,962,082.
The Board of Selectmen approved all the items reviewed at the first fiscal 2015 budget meeting on Tuesday night; it will finish reviewing the final items on Wednesday. The school districts — Adams-Cheshire and McCann Technical — will present their budgets on March 31.
Town Administrator Jonathan Butler told the board the town is in a comfortable position for the 2015 fiscal year.
"We feel that we are fiscally in a healthy state, and it is demonstrated through the strength of our reserves and our ability to continue to invest in our capital obligations and our economic development goals," Butler said.
Butler added that the overall capital outlay is proposed to increase .88 percent. The town's operation costs will increase 2.67 percent in personnel and .38 percent in operational expenses, total.
Butler explained that many of the new expenses in the budget focus on the strategic economic growth of Adams.
"The strategy again is to allow the town to invest responsibly in our infrastructure and in our capital needs while also maintaining our reserves, which really plays out to be at a healthier level than previous years," Butler said.
He said the first major expense to be taken out of the capital budget is $165,780 for the Adams Station Project. This money will come out of free cash. This project still must be approved at the upcoming special town meeting on Monday, March 24.
"It's important to commit to these projects and initiatives and see them through to fruition, and they are all in the spirit of the big picture," Butler said. "The more business we have in this town, the more activity we have in this town, and the more vibrancy we have in this town takes more of the burden off of the taxpayers."
He added there is another $30,000 investment in engineering funds for the community development department for the continued investment in the Greylock Glen project. Along with this, there is another $30,000 investment in marketing and tourism.
Butler explained that one of the larger increases in the budget comes from a 9.5 percent countywide health insurance increase from Berkshire Health Group.
"We had a few jumps in this budget that we weren't entirely expecting that we are trying to get under control, but again, we feel good about this proposal," Butler said.
With this increase, Butler added that there will be a 3 percent increase in the assessment of the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District and a 9 percent increase in the Northern Berkshire Vocational Technical School District.
Butler explained that there will be a continued appropriation of $175,000 in the reserve fund and $590,000 in revenue to offset the tax rate. He added that this is consistent with the past three fiscal years.
"We actually are going to grow our stabilization fund this year once we roll in the balance from the reserve account rather than reduce our stabilization," he said. "It will be the first budget in the last six or seven cycles where the stabilization increases."
Butler said that the town has $650,000 in the free cash that will be available for the next budget. He added that this amount is higher than last year’s roll over amount and provides a good foundation for future budgets.
In addition to this, Butler explained that Adams has seen $45,000 in new growth through new properties and new businesses.
The board moved deliberately through the review with little discussion, although Selectman Joseph Nowak protested that the Department of Public Works could save more by using less salt, and unanimously approved each item.