BRAINTREE — Mayor Charles C. Kokoros presented members of the Braintree Town Council with the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget during the council’s meeting Tuesday, April 28.
Despite the state legislature giving cities and towns the option to postpone the creation of the Fiscal Year 2021 budget, Mayor Kokoros, as part of a commitment to transparency and keeping the Town’s government operating, felt it was important to present a balanced budget in a timely manner.
“Despite the hardships currently facing the Town, the Commonwealth and the nation, we as leaders must stand strong and formulate budgets to provide and maintain services to our residents,” Kokoros said. “It is my responsibility to provide the Town Council with a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2021. The budget continues to provide the level of services that our residents expect and deserve.”
The budget as presented totals $143,370,197, which represents an increase of 2.84% over the FY2020 budget. This is the smallest overall projected increase in the Town budget over the past several years.
In January, Gov. Charles Baker released his 2021 statewide budget. The Town has taken into consideration the loss of revenue due to mandated business closures and other potential changes to revenue to fund the proposed budget. The Town has made adjustments to accommodate potential reductions in state aid.
The Town has also reduced its projected revenue from the hotel/motel tax by 50% and reduced the meals tax projection by 25%, and reduced interest income projection by 75% for Fiscal Year 2021.
“As well as reducing revenue projections for 2021, my team and I have worked with all of the Department Heads to reduce budgets by as much as 4% for each department,” Kokoros said. “Our Department Heads have done an incredible job to maintain the highest level of services for our residents while finding ways to reduce their Fiscal 2021 budgets. Even with these reductions in the budget we still maintain our high level of services and workforce.”
Highlights of the Fiscal Year 2021 budget include:
- The budget fully supports the needs of the Braintree Public Schools, including plans to move 5th graders to the new middle school and staffing needs that correspond with this change.
- Through the Department of Municipal Licenses and Inspections, the Town will continue to support the important missions of the Braintree Community Partnership on Substance Use and the Commission on Disabilities.
- The Braintree Police and Fire Departments will continue providing important public safety services to residents. Both Departments have received additional funding to cover overtime costs and with continued oversight and management by public safety leaders the Town will move to reduce, and eventually eliminate, a supplemental appropriation request to cover these costs.
- The Department of Elder Affairs will continue its support of the senior population, with various social events throughout the year and a newsletter to keep residents informed of all the great activities available to them.
- The Thayer Public Library, in collaboration with the Library Trustees, continues to enhance its services even while its doors have been closed to the public. Most recently, library staff provided virtual book and cookbook clubs and a murder mystery to keep residents engaged from their living rooms.
- There is a commitment to funding a Master Plan and, under the management of the Planning and Community Development Department, the Town will undertake this endeavor in Fiscal Year 2021 to help guide the future of the community.
- With a strong Department of Public Works, all divisions will continue to provide the services necessary to the community. In addition, for the first time the Town is designating a specific line item under Recreation and Community Events to help fund improvements to parks and fields. The Facilities Team will continue their great work in maintaining and upgrading buildings throughout the town.
As part of his remarks, Mayor Kokoros also recognized Braintree Health Director Marybeth McGrath, Public Health nurses Jean McGinty and Mary Mulready, the nurses brigade from the Braintree Public Schools, Chief of Staff Nicole Taub, Police Chief Mark Dubois, Fire Chief Jim O’Brien, Superintendent Dr. Frank Hackett, Services Coordinator Kate Naughton and Assistant to the Mayor Steve Leary for the work they have all done to help fight the coronavirus pandemic within the Braintree community while still performing the day-to-day duties necessary to keep the town operating at peak efficiency.
“I cannot say enough about the time and effort they have put into making sure every Town employee and Braintree resident has updated information available on a daily basis while helping implement measures to keep everyone safe and healthy,” Mayor Kokoros said. “My team has gone above and beyond their day-to-day responsibilities and have shown me their incredible commitment to the Town and our residents. For that I want to say thank you to each and every one of them.”