Both Richmond and Hopkinton voters approved the Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) budgets for their respective towns early this week, Richmond during a financial town meeting on Monday night and Hopkinton during an all-day Tuesday referendum. While the bottom line of the Richmond budget checks in at $22.86 million, that of Hopkinton totals $24.52 million.
A question on the Hopkinton ballot that asked voters to authorize the town to borrow up to $900,000 for a town hall consolidation and renovation project failed by a narrow margin. Of the 192 voters who cast their votes Tuesday, 93 voted to approve the money for the project while 98 voted to deny, a margin of just five votes.
Of those same voters, 115 voted to adopt the FY13 budget while 76 voted to deny. Two ballots had votes cast for only one of the questions.
Hopkinton already has plans in place for the consolidation project, and has already put away money for it. The question on the ballot was to ask voters to authorize the town to borrow the money this year as an alternative to setting aside funding for each of the next eight to ten years.
Town Manager William McGarry said that he, along with members of the town council, believed that borrowing the money this year would save the town money in the long run.
“Because of the building costs and anticipated higher interest rates in the year ahead, there are more advantages for the town to borrow the money instead of trying to save it on an incremental basis over a number of years,” he said.
He also said that borrowing the money would allow the project to begin sooner.
Hopkinton voters did approve the budget, however, which totals an increase of $445,613 from last year’s budget, even though the increase in contribution to the Chariho School District from the town of Hopkinton is $445,688.
The total amount allocated in the budget for education is $18.49 million. The next highest allocation in the Hopkinton budget is $1.66 million for police. Hopkinton officials tried feverishly to reduce the upcoming fiscal year’s Chariho budget, ultimately leading to some small cuts from the bottom line before that budget’s adoption.
Richmond does not hold a budget referendum. Instead, a financial town meeting is held annually for registered voters. Only 36 voters participated in Monday’s meeting.
The budget, which sees the tax rate rise 3 percent, and, like Hopkinton, the vast majority of expenses go to the Chariho school District, as is commonplace, was called responsible and conservative by Town Administrator Steve Sette.
“I think the budget that was passed was a responsible budget, which is what we strive for every year,” Sette said. “We tried to be as conservative as possible, but we also understand that the town is growing and we want to provide the best service possible to the people of town.”
For more information, pick up a copy of The Chariho Times.