5/1/2017 - 05/01/2017
Dear Canton Residents,
When I wrote to you in March regarding the town’s budget process, I said that there was great uncertainty about what the state budget could entail, and whether it would be finalized by the end of the regular legislative session on June 7th. That communication detailing the impact of the Governor’s budget proposal on Canton is available here. We are now in May, with no greater knowledge of what impact the state budget could have on our local finances. In the face of this uncertainty, the Board of Finance extended its budget process, holding a second budget workshop on April 27th, and pushing the Town Budget Meeting to Monday, May 22nd. However, we are bound by our charter to hold our annual budget meeting in May. Therefore, despite still not knowing what the state budget may hold in store for Canton, our process must go forward.
In March, the Board of Selectmen and Board of Education presented budgets to the Board of Finance with very minor spending increases which were offset by modest growth in the Grand List. These budgets, standing alone, would not have required any local tax increase. However, after including the Governor’s proposed $1.5 million cut in state aid, the budget would have required a 4.35% tax increase. In order to reduce that tax increase, on April 27th, the BOF made further cuts to the Board of Education and Board of Selectmen budgets, lowering the spending increases in those budgets to .5% and .9% respectively. The Board of Finance also reallocated excess funds from budgeted projects that are anticipated to cost less than originally estimated. This reallocation does not reduce the undesignated fund balance, which remains at a fiscally healthy level. With these changes, the Board of Finance approved a budget for FY 2017-2018 of $37,767,987, which requires a 2.45% tax increase, and raises our mil rate from 29.76 to 30.49. This is a $174 annual increase to the average Canton homeowner.
In the event the state budget, once finally passed, includes greater than budgeted revenue for Canton, the additional funds received from the state will be transferred to the undesignated fund. These are challenging and uncertain times and all Boards have worked hard to give the taxpayers a fiscally responsible budget that maintains current services. The budget will now be presented to the town for a vote at the Annual Town Budget Meeting, on Monday, May 22, 2017 at 7:00 pm in the High School auditorium. A quorum of 150 voters must attend, or the vote will be adjourned to a referendum at a cost to taxpayers of approximately $3500. I hope you will plan to attend.
Leslee B. Hill