2012 Annual Town Meeting: The FY2013 Budget, Articles and Ballot Questions

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“The purest form of democratic governing is practiced in a Town Meeting. In use for over 300 years and still today, it has proven to be a valuable means for many Massachusetts taxpayers to voice their opinions and directly effect change in their communities. Here in this ancient American assembly, you can make your voice heard as you and your neighbors decide the course of the government closest to you.”
- William Francis Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth

On Monday, May 7, Hopkinton residents will have the chance to attend yet another Annual Town Meeting, and will take part in voting to approve the Fiscal Year 2013 budget. According to the planned presentation by the Appropriations Committee, this year’s budget maintains current town services, invests strategically in key services, and continues to exercise fiscal discipline. Following guidelines set by the Board of Selectmen, it uses less than the full 2.5% tax levy increase allowed by Proposition 2 ½ and preserves the town’s tax levy reserve and at the same time, sets aside $50,000 for future capital needs (Capital Stabilization), establishes and sets aside $50,000 for Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) and adds $100,000 to the town’s Stabilization Fund, bringing the balance in that fund to $1,236,065.

Hopkinton’s proposed Fiscal Year 2013 Operating Budget totals $68,933,876, up 3.94% from Fiscal Year 2012. Percentage breakdown by department is as follows:

52.89% Town Schools To review the Hopkinton Public Schools Fy2013 Budget Book, Click Here. (PDF file)
17.66% Town Departments
13.35% Employee Benefits, Insurance & Misc
8.04% Debt Service
7.00% Enterprise/Community Preservation Funds
0.80% Regional Technical Vocational School

In a departure from previous years’ methods of financing, residents this year will be asked to vote on 10 separate ballot questions at the Annual Town Election on Monday, May 21. All 10 of these ballot questions are associated with articles on a Town Meeting Warrant and due to budget constraints have been pulled out of the operating budget. The original article associated with Question #1 was voted at last year’s Town Meeting, so you will not find an associated article on this year’s warrant. The same holds true for Question #2, which, due to timing issues, if passed at the ballot this year, will require another appropriation from a Speicial Town Meeting in the fall. Questions #3-#9, if approved by Town Meeting next week, will each require a vote at the ballot to receive funding, leaving the final decision about the fate of these projects, and their resultant tax burden, up to the voters. Question #10, if passed, requires approval from the State legislature.

The tax impact of this year’s budget, prior to any debt exclusions or capital outlay exclusions is 1.63% or $132 on the average single family home valued at $474,038.

Each of the 10 ballot questions will be voted individually, but if all were to pass, the tax impact for Year 1 would be 2.38% or $178 on the average single family home valued at $474,038, and would rise to $188 in Year 2.

Questions that will appear on the ballot, and their associated warrant article numbers and dollar costs are listed below, as well as the recommendations currently available as of the date of this story, from the Appropriation Committee (AC) and Capital Improvement Committee (CIC)

A copy of the 2012 Annual Town Meeting Warrant is attached below as well as what is known as the Hand Warrant which includes the dollar amounts.