Greenfield has balanced 2014 budget

GREENFIELD — Town Council voted 9-3 Wednesday night to approve the mayor’s 2014 balanced budget of $43.8 million.

At-large councilors Mark Wisnewski and Dalton Athey and Precinct 6 Councilor Hillary Hoffman were the dissenting votes.

Those councilors said they had concerns about Mayor William Martin not using the Proposition 2 1∕ 2 levy next year, which towns are allowed to use each year.

They said they wanted to see the budget include the $670,000 it would have raised, to help fund an unfunded but mandated post employment benefit account, which will eventually have to have about $80 million in it to cover future expenses. They said, therefore, they could not support Martin’s budget.

So far, the town has put about $100,000 into that account.

It was after an hour-long discussion that the council voted a budget that does not cut any services or lay off anyone.

Next year’s budget, which totals $43,775,832, a $1.3 million or 3.13 percent increase over this year’s $42,448,460 budget, includes about $650,000 to cover increases to mandated costs of health and other insurances, retirement, and other employee benefits.

Martin and the council gave Greenfield public schools $17.4 million, which will cover operating costs and payment for Greenfield students who go to regional schools. It is $726,000 more than schools received this year, and Superintendent Susan Hollins told councilors that the amount was still about $150,000 shy of what would be ideal to operate schools next year, but said schools can and will work with it.

Police will receive $2.6 million next year, which is $95,910 less than this year, and the Fire Department will receive $1.8 million, which is $207,400 more than it received this year. That will help pay for six firefighters who have been being paid by a grant that ran out.

Public works will receive at $35,800 increase next year at $1.8 million, and the library will see a $25,000 increase from this year at $614,500.

Town Council President David Singer (Precinct 5) commended the mayor for doing a good job keeping costs down over the past few years, while keeping town departments strong.

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