HOPEDALE – Voters will decide a tax exemption at the end of the month that is expected to fund more than half a dozen local expenses for public safety equipment, road repairs, vehicle purchases and more.
“I think in this particular case, we hope that (the voters) will support us, because we need additional capital,” said city administrator Diana Schindler. “We are working on several projects that require investments.
The waiver is approximately $ 290,000 and is a debt exclusion, meaning it is temporary and in effect until a debt is paid. The election is scheduled for Tuesday, June 29.
This will be Hopedale’s third tax exemption request in as many years. Although the city has a budget deficit of just under $ 300,000 for the May municipal assembly, which approves the budget, finance officials used available cash to cover it.
But free money is a sole source of funding and is not recommended to cover recurring costs.
Part of the city’s financial strategy going forward will be to exclude capital items – expensive, one-time purchases like vehicles and building roofs – from the operating budget, Schindler said.
“We are trying to get into a best practice situation where we are excluding debt for large investment projects,” Schindler said.
Items listed in the June 29 ballot are the roof of Memorial Elementary School, repairs to the building for the Bancroft Memorial Library, replacement and repair of sidewalks on the Freedom Street Bridge, repair of roads , a pump truck for the fire department, four vehicles for the Department highway, a stormwater management project and the creation of a water pollution control trust.
If the waiver fails, a special city assembly vote will be needed to balance the budget, Schindler said, but no municipal departments or jobs should be on the cutting board.
The number voted in the town assembly can change, Schindler said, depending on local income. A bump at local marijuana stores, for example, can cause Town Meeting to ask for less.
The finance committee expects to create a long-term capital plan, which would list the city’s assets and determine their expected lifespan, then appropriately plan for replacement or repair.
Future capital expenditures will include several repair projects in city-owned buildings, maintenance of city-owned parks and city conservation lands, parks, dams, culverts and bridges, and looking for another source of drinking water.
This last element is essential for more development in the city, which would bring in more tax revenue.
“You just have to figure these things out going forward,” Schindler said. “We would be delighted to start building capital funds for this. “
The city is also expected to reconsider costly health insurance deals that cover all city employees, including union workers, and the city’s garbage contract, which expires this year.
Alison Bosma can be reached at 508-634-7582 or at [email protected] Find her on Twitter at @AlisonBosma.