RICHMOND — Richmond voters passed the town’s proposed Fiscal Year 2019-20 budget by a comfortable margin at the Financial Town Meeting Monday at Richmond Elementary School.
The vote was 49 to approve the spending plan and 23 not to approve.
Town Council President Richard Nassaney said he was pleased with the productive conversations that took place after the budget vote.
The $26.3 million proposed spending plan was a 2.5 percent increase over the current year's budget, and homeowners were facing a property tax increase of 2.4 percent.
The current mill rate, the tax rate per $1,000 valuation, is $21.36. The proposed mill rate, which could still change slightly, is $21.88. The levy increase of 3.9 percent is just shy of the 4 percent cap the state imposes on increases in the tax levy.
The town's contribution to the Chariho school district will increase by $185,299 to $19.8 million, but unlike previous years, Chariho is not the major contributor to the town's budget increase. The most important factor impacting the new budget involves capital transfers.
In previous years, the capital budget has been funded by bond issues, increasing the town's debt. In the proposed spending plan, the proposed capital budget is $755,494, which, this year, will be funded by three sources: leftover bond proceeds, the capital reserve for buildings and maintenance and a transfer from the general fund.
The town's major expenditures are debt service, the police department and the department of public works. The debt service budget is $0.9 million, the same as the current year.
The most significant component of the police budget is salaries, however contract negotiations are ongoing, so that amount, and therefore, the total police budget, has not been finalized. It is expected that the current police budget of $1.9 million will be approximately the same as the current fiscal year.
The Department of Public Works budget of $1.5 million is an increase of $39,450 or 6 percent over the current year. The department has been struggling to remove thousands of dead trees following the severe gypsy moth infestation and will receive an additional $10,000 for tree maintenance, bringing the total to tree budget to $35,000.
The DPW's capital budget has also been reduced, to $565,000. Of that amount, $427,000 is for road work, and $138,000 will be used to purchase new equipment.