2018 budget approved for adoption
The New Shoreham Town Council approved the 2018 operating and capital budget for adoption at its final hearing on April 5. If the warrant is adopted at the Council’s April 19 meeting it will be voted on at the May 1 Financial Town Meeting. The Council’s proposed 2018 budget recommends spending $14,032,776, which includes a 3.6 percent raise in the property tax. The approved 2018 fiscal year budget is a $591,007 increase over the 2017 budget.
The Town Manager’s recommended budget heading into this year’s budget season was $13,925,059, but the Council, absent Councilor Martha Ball, increased the budget for several departments.
After some back and forth with Volunteer Fire Department members during several meetings, the Town Council voted unanimously to fund the Fire Department’s budget by $115,550.
The Town Council approved adding $89,000 in additional funding to the capital budget to fully fund replacement of the chassis for Rescue 2 at a total price tag of $178,000. And in order to fund a new fire truck at a capital cost of $750,000, the Council is considering placing $500,000 on the final warrant at the annual Financial Town Meeting, which this year takes place on Monday, May 1. The Fire Department will also dedicate about $250,000 from its restricted fund to help pay for the truck.
The Town Council also unanimously approved funding the Early Learning Center’s requested budget amount of $147,785, an increase of $7,667 over what had been recommended by the town. In citing its budgeting needs, Director Julie Conant informed the Town Council that the Center experienced an anomalous onetime drop in enrollment that will correct itself next year.
Island Free Library Director Kristin Baumann told the Town Council that the library is dedicating $4,500 for advertising in The Block Island Times.
Baumann said she is cutting $3,000 from the library’s seasonal employee line item because “the library will be working with the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Library and Information Studies to fill seasonal positions with students interested in public library service. As a librarian with a Master of Library and Information Studies, and a Master of Public Administration, I am qualified to supervise student internships, as well as independent studies. It is exciting to fill the position in this way. It will expose students to an excellent public library.”
First Warden Ken Lacoste said he felt good about the budget for the 2018 fiscal year. “I’m confident that it’s a good budget,” he said, “although I would have liked to do something for the school” regarding its Internet issues. During a brief discussion on the broadband issue, Lacoste and the Town Council deliberated the idea of allocating about $200,000 to bring fiber to the Block Island School, as well as the Medical Center, Police Station and Fire Department, but the discussion failed to gain traction.
A Town Council meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 19 for the adoption of the warrant. The town’s registered voters will vote on the 2018 operating and capital budget at the May 1 FTM at 7 p.m. at the Block Island School.