Barrington budget increase fueled by police, pensions, computers

Barrington Town Hall, Barrington, Rhode Island

Barrington Town Hall, Barrington, Rhode Island

A new computer technician, a part-time employee for the police department, and more hours for the town’s human resources position are a few of the reasons this year’s proposed budget shows a 1.94 percent increase.

Overall, the proposed budget includes a $330,689 increase over last year’s numbers, totaling about $17.36 million.

Following is a breakdown of some of the costs fueling the increases — and decreases — in the proposed budget:

• Pensions — $94,895 increase. According to the budget narrative drafted by Barrington Town Manager Peter DeAngelis, the town is facing a 9.29 percent increase in pension contributions. “This number reflects the original gains of pension reform and will increase, in future years with the mediated settlement or a successful union legal challenge,” Mr. DeAngelis wrote.

• Police — $53,069 increase. The Barrington Police Department is in currently participating in an accreditation process, which reportedly requires the services of a part-time officer to help. The officer comes at a cost of about $20,000; the current police force is also due a 2 percent increase in salaries as part of their contract with the town.

• Computer — $52,220 increase. The municipal government and school department are discussing potential consolidation of IT services, but according to the budget narrative school “it is apparent that they (school officials) do not have sufficient resources to cover the municipal needs.” The proposed municipal budget includes $50,000 for a computer technician position.

• Board of canvassers — $13,952 increase. The town is anticipating the additional costs to cover the primary and general election this year.

• Solicitor — $13,500 increase. The town has budgeted $163,500 for the town solicitor, which covers legal services, criminal prosecution, zoning, litigation costs, labor and grievance arbitrations. This year the town aims to increase funding for some of those line items. “It has been a number of years since the solicitor budget has been increased,” stated the narrative. “Held flat for many years, it has been adjusted to reflect recent trends.”

• Miscellaneous — $17,001 increase. This includes $10,000 for professional development, specifically the participation of four town employees in the Leadership Matters initiative. That program’s goal is to help local public leaders “achieve outcomes that improve capacity and efficiency in serving the citizens of their towns.”

• Government center utilities — $8,300 increase. The town is anticipating additional costs for higher maintenance agreements and increased utility costs.

• Human resources — $7,738 increase. The human resources position is part-time, and will remain so, but with additional hours added.

Decreases

Both debt principal and debt interest are anticipated to decrease over the coming year. Debt principal is reportedly due to drop by about $13,000, while the interest will lower by about $40,000.

“Additional debt service is reduced and no additional debt is proposed,” stated the narrative.

What is not included — $43 million

The proposed municipal budget included a section that asked the question “What is not included in this budget?” In short, some important information is not included, specifically downtown streetscape improvements, a new middle school, a new community center and library renovations.

Screetscape: The planning board is reportedly recommending some downtown streetscape improvements, which will cost approximately $1.6 million. The town’s capital budget includes $250,000 in “seed money” and at its March 3 meeting, the town council endorsed the project and “expressed interest in funding the entire amount in the upcoming fiscal year.” The narrative states that in order to do so, more discussions are needed with the committee on appropriations to explore various funding options.

Middle school: “The school committee has determined that the middle school needs to be replaced,” stated the budget narrative. That project would reportedly cost $36 million, which would add $2.8 million annually to debt service for 20 years. However, the narrative states that if the project receives school housing aid of 35 percent — a reimbursement of funds from the state to the town — the debt service would about $1.82 million. “The school administration should be asked to provide appropriations with an update regarding the status of this project.”

Community center: Local officials are also discussing the idea of building a community center at an approximate cost of $3 to $5 million.

• Library renovations: According to the narrative, the library director is proposing future interior renovations which would cost $1.25 million.

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