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Council to vote 2014 budget tonight

GREENFIELD — If town councilors vote the mayor’s $43.8 million 2014 budget tonight, it appears the town will dodge layoffs and service cuts next year.

That would be the third year in a row without service cuts.

“I didn’t want to lose ground in my fourth budget,” said Mayor William Martin, shortly after he submitted his 2014 budget proposal last month.

Martin said the premise of all of his budgets has been to maintain all employees and services.

The mayor’s budget, which totals $43,775,832, a $1.3 million or 3.13 percent increase to 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.

“I believe that after four years, we’ve figured out what it takes to run each department efficiently,” he said. “We filtered through all expenses and analyzed every individual budget.”

Martin wants to give schools, including payment for Greenfield students in regional schools, $17.54 million, which is $726,000 more than this year.

His budget also includes enough money to fund six firefighters who have been paid by a grant, and five police officer positions that need to be filled due to retirements and people leaving.

Martin is proposing that police receive $2.6 million, which is $95,910 less than this year, and the Fire Department receive $1.8 million, which is $207,400 more than this year.

Martin said the town will be able to afford to replace the five police officers, because the officers who left did so at a higher pay rate than the new ones will receive to start.

The mayor said he was able to craft a balanced budget with increases from parking fees, meal tax, lodging tax, and profits from the sale of town-owned land.

“The town has also been very aggressive in bringing back taxes that people owe up to date,” said Martin.

He said conservative efforts by the town, including the solar farm on the capped landfill, reduced consumption of energy, and other “green” measures have saved the town money, which he used to fund his budget.

Martin said raises for town employees are also covered in the budget.

Central Maintenance, a department Martin created more than a year ago, will receive $1.5 million, the same as this year.

Public works will receive a $35,800 increase, or $1.8 million, and the library will receive $614,500, a $25,000 increase over this year.

According to Martin’s budget, the Recreation Department will receive $15,000 less than it did this year, but it has begun using its own revolving account to cover some of its expenses. The money from that account comes from different events the department holds throughout the year.

The council’s Ways and Means Committee will give its recommendation before the full council takes its vote tonight.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the Greenfield Community Television studio at 393 Main St.

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