WVN #474: Wayland Tax rate is $17.89 -- near estimate
- Dear Wayland Voter,
Waylanders will pay a tax rate of $17.89 per thousand dollars of valuation for fiscal year 2013, which ends next June 30. The rate came after the Board of Selectmen voted to continue the same tax rate for residential and commercial properties and the state certified the rate.
Taxpayers have been receiving estimated bills based on a $17.80 rate. The rate for fiscal 2012 was $19.01. In both years, the tax rate has been lowered through the use of free cash and by eliminating expenses.
The trend to lower the tax rate began at the special Town Meeting in the fall of 2011, when voters approved using $4 million from surplus free cash, resulting in the tax rate of $19.01 for FY 12. Prior to the withdrawal, and as of July 1, 2011 free cash totaled $10.3 million, equivalent to 14.92% of town expenses. The FinCom wants free cash at 5-10% of expenses while the state recommends 3-5%. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waylandvotersnetwork/message/552
At the annual Town Meeting in April 2012 voters continued the trend, thwarting the predictions of the Finance Committee in the warrant that "For FY 2013, on average, property taxes will increase by approximately $630, or 5.6% per household based on an average house value of $600,000."
The petitioners of last year's special Town Meeting proposed new budget solutions for FY 13, both to the FinCom before the meeting and at the meeting, resulting in a significant property tax decrease and no impact to services. For example, proposals made by the petitioners prior to town meeting resulted in the elimination of an excess payment of $1.45 million to the retirement line item, a $900,000 reduction in payment to the OPEB (other post employment benefits) trust and the return of $691,998 from the schools (with over $500,000 of this sum going to free cash).
At Town Meeting, approximately $2 million in expenses was eliminated including the remaining $1.3 million in the operating budget earmarked for OPEB, which was discovered to be funded beyond the Finance Committee's knowledge, and $700,000 from the capital budget.
The Town Meeting also applied $6.07 million from free cash and assessors' overlay surplus to the budget to ensure free cash did not grow to more than 10% of the budget again.
Even after the use of so much free cash, Wayland closed fiscal 2012 with $6.024 million in free cash, according to the latest tax recapitulation sheet.
Potential Future Shock
The amount to be raised through taxation in FY 13 is $52.016 million, but the total budget is $74.36 million. This is about the same percentage difference shown by some other communities, with the notable exception that Wayland used $6.07 million of free cash.
The difference consists of $4.19 million from the state, $9.89 million from local receipts including enterprise funds, community preservation funds, and fees, excise, licenses, investment income, etc.; and $2.2 million from funds such as ambulance, premium on bonds, and overlay surplus, and $6.07 million free cash.
The Finance Committee has warned this year's rate is unusually low and will rise significantly in FY 14 absent efforts to reduce budgets, consolidate or regionalize services and/or raise revenues. The FinCom has asked departments for trimmer budgets this year. (see below). A key role in the budget is being played out in negotiations with the teachers' union.
Not all peer towns identified by the FinCom have had their tax rates certified by the state. A few examples of FY 13 rates: Carlisle 17.68, Medfield 15.73, Lincoln 14.23 (commercial at 18.72 ) and Concord at 14.07. Weston is 12.40. Wayland is the only town so far among this group with a lower tax rate in FY 13.
-- WVN Staff
FINCOM BUDGET REQUEST CLARIFIED
In the article on FinCom's Nov. 26, 2012 meeting, Wayland Voters Network reported that the FinCom requested three proposed FY14 budgets from each department. The school department has in fact offered to show three budgets, but FinCom has requested only two. The two requested budgets for every department are:
1) "Maintenance of Effort" or "Level Services"---this takes the current FY13 budget and adds the steps and lanes and utilities. Steps and lanes are contracted salary increases for longevity and advanced degrees.
2) "Ten percent reduction"---in this case, the proposed FY14 budget total is 90% of the proposed Level Services budget, not of the FY13 budget as reported.
Superintendent Paul Stein told the School Committee that he intends to present an additional version of the FinCom-requested "level services" budget which adds funding for such items as additional staff to handle increased enrollments and the continuation of the Chinese language initiative into the eighth grade.
According to the FinCom, its Nov. 26 meeting was announced as being recorded by WayCAM, but the recording is not yet posted on WayCAM's Video on Demand archive.
NEW JOB OPPORTUNITY
After more than a decade of service to the Wastewater Management District Commission (WWMDC), Wayland resident Bill Prendergast is retiring from his job as the commission's executive director. The paid position is now advertised as the Assistant to the WWMDC on the town website:
More information about the business function of the commission that Prendergast has overseen is available in Wayland's published Annual Reports posted on the town website. http://www.wayland.ma.us/Pages/WaylandMA_Selectmen/TownReports/index
For example, for the 2011 Annual Report, scroll down to page 55:
For the 2009 Annual Report, scroll down to page 49:
The WWMDC also maintains an informative website:
The next WWMDC meeting is Friday morning, Dec. 14, at 8:30 a.m.
Monday Dec. 17, 7 p.m. Selectmen
Monday 7:30 p.m. Planning Board and Board of Public Works continuation on Finnerty's site redevelopment. The town's traffic consultant will present a report. http://www.wayland.ma.us/Pages/WaylandMA_MeetingsCal/S019FBAF6-019FBB16.0/Agendaplanningbd12172012.pdf
Monday 6-7 p.m. Board of Public Works will hear a presentation on potential installation of a Compressed Natural Gas station in Wayland.
Tuesday 7:30 p.m. Planning Board public hearing on a proposed application to modify the Pheasant Run Subdivision decision to allow access to Lot 20 from Saddle Lane. The proponent is purchasing 12 Pheasant Run (Lot 20) and Lots 15 & 16 Saddle Lane in order to construct a single-family residence on the combined area of 50,712 square feet. The public is invited to attend and offer comments regarding this application.
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor