News summary from Sept. 9 forum added, as manager offers new total of $35.25M
UPDATED, Sept. 14: Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine joined other officials at a virtual town forum on Thursday, Sept. 9, presenting an plan to spend $34 million in federal funds from the American Recovery Plan Act.
The next day, the manager confirmed the funding amount totals $35.25 million and has provided an updated framework to reflect this update.
In addition, the comment period has been extended from Sept. 9 to Sunday, Sept. 19, before a final plan is presented to the Select Board, on Sept. 27, for endorsement. The board was to hear details about the forum at its regular meeting, set for Monday, Sept. 13, but that discussion was put off until Sept. 20.
Meanwhile, read the following report from the virtual town forum on Thursday, Sept. 9, was provided by Melanie Gilbert, YourArlington freelancer.
Public to get its say in next month's survey
UPDATED, Aug. 12: The Select Board had scheduled a discussion for Monday, Aug. 9, about initial plans to address how to spend $34 million due from the federal government, an unprecedented impact on the town, whose current budget totals $187,456,161, but that was delayed until Sept. 13.
The funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is a slice of $350 billion aimed at softening blows from the Covid-19 pandemic and boosting water-related infrastructure. Instead of a discussion, the board formally accept these funds from the federal government and endorsed the following:
- $1.6 million in immediate water/sewer spending for current needs; and
- $50,000 for the Housing Corporation of Arlington to immediately fund homelessness prevention.
Discussion was delayed in the interest of time at a meeting that went past 11 p.m.
Schools could get $1M via Title I; spending priorities await clearer direction
UPDATED, March 25: Arlington officials await final numbers for its share of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, but so far, the town's share is estimated to be almost $36.8 million. The public schools may get a little over $1 million.
That projection comes from a March 12 analysis of the national Covid-19 relief plan the Massachusetts Municipal Association, the nonprofit representing 351 cities and towns in the commonwealth. Read it here >> Within that analysis are these numbers >>
“This gives us an opportunity to provide long-lasting benefits to Arlington," Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine told the Select Board Monday, March 15. "We’re aware only of broad categories, and await news from the federal level. We need to make sure we don’t spend it too quickly, and we’ll have more discussions.”
Town receives two awards for financial reporting, budgeting
Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine has sent his fiscal 2022 operating budget to the Select Board and Finance Committee for consideration. The former board heard a presentation and commented on it Jan. 25 . A summary will be published.
The budget recommends $187.7 million in general fund spending, including $41.8 million for town municipal departments, $80.1 million for the School Department and $15.7 million for capital expenses, as well as other appropriations for pensions and health insurance.
In his transmittal letter, Chapdelaine noted that, “this budget proposal has been formulated in one of the most uncertain economic environments that we have seen in the 21st century.”
Here's a fact: Arlington homeowners will pay $11.34 for each $1,000 of assessed value, a rate that is a slightly higher than the current year.
Here's an estimate: Under this new rate, the average annual tax bill for a single-family house in town is $9,405 (see chart for comparison of recent years).
Here's an opinion: "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society." So wrote U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. in a 1927 case.
Agree or not, the public faces annually the results of town assessors' work -- to arrive at the total value of Arlington properties and recommend a rate to tax them.
This year, the Select Board approved the assessors' recommendation to raise the rate 28 cents per $1,000, from $11.06 in fiscal 2020, on Nov. 30, and the state Department of Revenue has approved the new rate.
Tax bills for the next quarter are expected to be mailed and delivered before Dec. 31, wrote Deputy Town Manager Sandy Pooler.
The state Legislature recently passed legislation to enhance unemployment benefits for 17,000 people in Massachusetts by as much as $1,800 each. The legislation was signed into law by Gov. Baker shortly after.
“The Senate is committed to helping the most vulnerable residents in our Commonwealth as we continue to confront the ongoing pandemic, and this bill reflects that commitment,” Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) said in a Nov. 5 news release. “During this difficult financial time, we need to do everything we can to support those in need so they can support themselves and their families.”
“Right now, Massachusetts has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge). “We must protect our most disadvantaged populations, and this critically important legislation will help us accomplish that goal. We will provide much needed support for families and individuals struggling financially during these unprecedented times, and I am pleased the Legislature prioritized this matter.”
UPDATED: The Legislature and Baker administration have agreed to an unrestricted local aid and Chapter 70 funding commitment that provides a baseline amount for fiscal 2021. This commitment will provide critical support for municipalities and school districts as they finalize their budgets.
Under the agreement, the Town of Arlington will receive $8,056,055 in local aid and $14,566,028 in Chapter 70 education funding. The town is additionally eligible for federal relief funding of $1,522,470.
Those who want to pay town bills by check can still drop off any payments at Town Hall -- inside and out.
A new dropbox has been added in the parking lot at Town Hall off Academy Street.
The box is black and stands between the doors next to the bicycle racks.
This is in addition to the dropbox to the right of the front doors of Town Hall, near the cement bench.
UPDATED, April 2: The fiscal 2021 budget is a document the town manager’s office has been working on for several months.
The recommended appropriation figures have been reviewed and approved by the Finance Committee. Given the uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 issue, leaders will continue to monitor the town's financial condition and may make changes to this budget at Town Meeting in June.
The budget is online. Read it here >>
The Public Annual Financial Report (PAFR) is a brief, four-page report that provides a snapshot of the town’s basic financial condition and trends. It also contains summarized financial schedules and tables.
A physical copy of the PAFR will be included in the quarterly water bills, which will be mailed out on April 6. You may view the PAFR now at arlingtonma.gov/budget
Arlington has received competitive bids from bond underwriters for a $66,190,000 30-year general obligation bond issue.
Morgan Stanley & Co. was the winning bidder on the bonds, with an average interest rate of 2.69 percent. The town received 11 bids on the bonds.
Proceeds will finance various municipal purposes. The largest partion of this bond helps fund the first phase of the new Arlington High School, with additional funds going toward the community center renovations (Senior Center), and other approved capital programs.
UPDATED, April 2: Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine has updated the town's fiscal 2020 budget from the preliminary measure announced in January to the current financial plan.
The annual plan provides residents with an overview of the budget process, as well as an explanation of the town's departments and organization. It serves as a policy document, a financial guide and a communications device to residents. Read the plan at arlingtonma.gov/budget.
Select Board votes to OK successor
UPDATED, Oct. 28: Arlington's town-treasurer "experiment" is nearing an end, and Dean E. Carman, who is in the center of it, says all has worked out for the best.
Treasurers offices nearly everywhere operate with an expected attention to regularity and official procedure. The public needs assurance that its tax money is handled with care.
What began 20 months ago as a test to see whether a part-timer could manage the full-time office has led to his own assessment about that tenure:
"When I ran for Treasurer & Collector, I campaigned on a platform of professionalizing the office and implementing the best practices outlined in the January 2012 DOR review of the town's financial structure," Carman recently told YourArlington. "Since being elected in April 2017, I've had the opportunity to collaborate with the town's outstanding professional staff on many initiatives that have moved Arlington forward and prepared it for future success.
"I'm most proud of the improved coordination of our finance departments." He cited the 2012 state Department of Revenue report, which noted that 'cooperation [between financial departments] is voluntary and none of these officials can be held truly accountable.'"
The transition to a newly appointed treasurer -- from an elected one -- as well as to a coordinated finance department is due to move forward Wednesday, Sept. 12, when the Select Board voted to approve the one candidate for the job, Phyllis Marshall-Hartman, who most recently served in Belmont.
UPDATED: Arlington's state legislative leaders have announced funding for a number of projects in and around the town listed in the fiscal 2019 state budget.
State Sen. Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), state Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) and state Rep. Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge) say in a joint news release that the final budget features investments in areas related to public education, local aid, transportation, health and human services, housing and assistance for low-income families.
The budget includes Arlington-related items, including $160,000 for Arlington Youth Counseling Center (AYCC). The AYCC provides therapeutic, community-based counseling services for youth from 3 to 21 years old and their families.
Manager explains schools' share, notes first use of override fund after 2011
UPDATED, March 31: Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine released to the public by Jan. 31 the town's fiscal 2019 preliminary budget -- totaling $161,013,030, an increase of $6,076,495 (3.9 percent) from the current spending plan -- and YourArlington published highlights that day.
On Monday, Feb. 5, the manager presented the proposed plan to selectmen. Read it here >>
Here is the link to the final budget plan, to be approved by Town Meeting >>
Among comments from the board, Dan Dunn looked ahead to next year. He asked members to begin discussing publicly having the operating override for the town and debt exclusion for Arlington High School at the same time, expected to be in spring 2019. The amounts in each case are not yet known.
Drilling down into the fiscal 2019 budget, the manager noted for the shorter term:
Discussion about override, AHS debt exclusion point to next year
A couple of expensive votes loom in Arlington's future, and leaders charged with looking at the larger financial picture grappled Feb. 26 with the amounts of money involved, when to hold those votes and how to make the cases for each to the public.
The Budget and Revenue Task Force weighed scenarios about an override to support the town's structural deficit as well as a debt exclusion to help pay for a new or rebuilt Arlington High School. Participants did not vote on the matter, but the consensus of those who commented appeared to favor having both votes next year.
The amounts of money under discussion depend on the option considered. The overall increase in taxes could range from $766 to $1,377 a year.
The body, in existence for at least a decade and represented that Monday by 21 members, provided a framework for further discussion.
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