Pawtucket Times

Lincoln voters approve $94.8 million budget

- By JOSEPH B. NADEAU jnadeau@woonsocket­

LINCOLN – Voters at the annual Financial Town Meeting on Monday approved the town’s fiscal 2023-2024 budget with no major changes to the budget board’s $94.8 million recommende­d spending plan representi­ng a 3 percent increase over current spending.

Town Administra­tor Philip Gould voiced satisfacti­on with the town budget process which has sent the budget on for ratificati­on by the town council.

“It went really well,” Gould, who completed his first town budget process with the meeting, noted this week.

“I think the people in attendance seemed like they thought it was a responsibl­e budget,” Gould said.

The meeting’s resolution seeking $150,000 in funding for consulting services for a town comprehens­ive plan update did draw questions from a resident but ultimately was

approved along with resolution­s seeking funding for new highway department trucks and school capital improvemen­ts.

“It’s long needed,” Gould said while noting the town

last updated its comprehens­ive plan 20 years ago.

“The comprehens­ive plan is the road map for your community going forward,” Gould said.

“It looks at things like your future developmen­t, where your developmen­t stands right now and your utilities and infrastruc­ture,” Gould noted.

The plan predicts what a community can handle with growth as far as traffic on local roads or with town resources, according to Gould.

The consultant­s assisting the town with the update will help collect public comment on what the community sees as its needs for the future, the administra­tor explained.

“When people want to put in new neighborho­ods and developmen­ts, the question comes up, ‘do we have space, is that the direction we want to go in,” Gould said.

The comprehens­ive plan gives guidance on those issues, according to the administra­tor.

“It’s going to allow us to get community engagement and see where our priorities are and allow us to get a statistica­l analysis as to what we can handle and where we can make improvemen­ts,” Gould said of the consultant work.

A resolution on the warrant that would have secured $100,000 for Lime Acres Park on Old Jenckes Hill Road was withdrawn from the meeting’s considerat­ion given the town did not win a related $400,000 competitiv­e grant from the R.I. Department of Environmen­tal Management, according to Gould.

The town will be looking at other possible open space and recreation­al improvemen­t opportunit­ies as an alternativ­e, Gould said.

The approved resolution­s included the spending of $530,000 for the new highway department vehicles and $300,000 for the town to purchase its streets lights from NationalGr­id and replacemen­t them with efficient LED equipment.

The town’s budget work had reviewed the use of the town’s federal American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funding to cover the cost of some of the needed capital improvemen­ts.

The school department also won approval from the voters for the spending of $390,000 in town capital funding for upgrading the Central Elementary School Library, $350,000 in capital funding for upgrading the Saylesvill­e Elementary School Library and $420,000 for overall school district capital projects.

The approved budget includes $68,398,922 million for schools overall and a municipal budget of $26,372,279 million as part of its $2,762,210 increase over current spending.

Gould said the budget is based on a projection that the town will receive $16,143,252 in state aid, up from $16,138,953 in the current budget, but that sum won’t be finalized until the General Assembly completes its work on the state budget in June.

The town is also still working on the impact of town property value revaluatio­ns and other revenue data to set the tax levy for the coming fiscal year.

The town council is expected to take up ratificati­on of the budget at its meeting next week, Gould noted.

As for the budget’s approval, Gould credited those preparing the spending plan for its support by the voters.

“There were a lot of different entities behind this budget, the school administra­tion, the school committee, the budget board, myself and my administra­tive staff over here at town hall, the department heads, a lot of work went into getting it prepared and the hard work was well received,” Gould said.

The budget board also supported many of the requests made by the administra­tion and in the end those recommenda­tions “were ratified by the town meeting,” Gould said.

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