RICHMOND — Members of the Board of Finance met Monday in the second of a series of workshops on the town’s proposed 2018-19 budget.
The board is still awaiting budget requests from several town departments, but so far, the $25 million spending plan represents a slight 0.5 percent increase over the current budget. There will be several months of discussions and adjustments before the final proposal is presented to voters at the Financial Town Meeting in June.
Board Chairman William Degnan said he was not anticipating any big surprises during the budgeting process.
“I think we can look at pretty much level funding across the board as far as day-to-day activities go,” he said.
The town’s contribution to the Chariho Regional School District, its largest annual expense, is expected to be $19.3 million, an increase of 0.83 percent.
Another large-budget item for Richmond is its police department, which, in the proposed budget, will be $1.97 million, a 6 percent increase resulting from salary increases already stipulated in the collective agreement.
The Department of Public Works has requested $934,000, up 4.8 percent over the current year.
Degnan said it was too soon to know how the budget would affect property taxes.
“I don’t know how that translates into the tax levy,” he said. “I don’t know at this point. Even by the Financial Town Meeting, it’s still being calculated.”
Budget items discussed Monday were the town’s contributions to community service organizations, which the board agreed to level-fund, bringing the total to $152,000.
As in past years, the nonprofit organizations receiving the largest amounts are Hope Valley Ambulance, which, as it did last year, asked for and received $50,000, and Clark Memorial Library, which requested $98,000 and was level-funded at $97,000. The board agreed to consider raising the contribution to $98,000 after obtaining additional information from the library’s director, Lynn Thompson.
Several groups, such as the Rhode Island Center Assisting those in Need (RICAN), had asked for larger grants from the town this year, a request the board said it not could not fulfill given the persistent financial constraints on the town. RICAN had asked for $2,500, but will receive the same amount as the current year, $1,000.
“As good as they are, I’m going to have a hard time this year increasing too many of these service groups,” board member Barry Chipman said.
“That’s kind of my thinking too,” member Steve Rego added. “The town’s budget is very lean again and fairly flat all across the board.”
At its next meeting on March 5, the board will tackle the police and Department of Public Works budgets. All budget items are subject to approval as well as changes by the Town Council.