by Andrew Martin
Residents of Morristown will be voting on a proposed town budget at Town Meeting in March that is only slightly up from last year. Several departments or sections of the town’s government actually saw decreases, which has led to a proposed town budget that is up only 3.2 percent for Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14).
One area of the Morristown proposed budget that’s down is the General Government budget. In the approved Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) budget, the General Government total was $1,742,812, while FY14 proposed budget is down $72,389 from that figure to $1,670,423. According to Morristown Town Administrator Dan Lindley the decrease is due in part to a bookkeeping change and an alteration in the way the town handled state funds for certain tasks such as yearly reappraisal.
While the proposed General Government budget is down for FY14, several other departments or entities did see slight increases in their budgets. The Morristown Police Department saw an upswing in budget from $1,053,960 in FY13 to a proposed $1,117,120 for FY14. According to Lindley this increase of 6 percent, or $63,160 dollars, is due in part to a change in the wages and benefits that many members of the department are now receiving. New data lines and storage devices for the cameras officers now wear on their persons were also required, and a portion of the increase will also be used to fund repairs and renovations to the Morristown Police Station.
The Morristown Fire Department also saw an increase of 7.9 percent, from an FY13 budget of $184,645 to a proposed FY14 budget of $199,231. Reasons for the increase include the department’s need to spend $5,000 to renovate a portion of their building. A second area requiring more funding is the fact that the wages for the department are increasing from $11 per hour to $12 per hour while the number of calls to which the department is responding have also increased.
The Morristown Highway Department also saw a slight increase of 3.5 percent, from $1,642,915 in FY13 to a proposed $1,700,335 for FY14. Like many other departments and towns, a portion of that increase is due to the changes in employee benefits and health care packages that are being accessed. Changes in equipment are also factoring into the increase in the Highway Department’s proposed budget.
The Special Warning Items is one of several areas where the proposed budget for Morristown is staying level. In FY13 the total for Special Warning Items was $118,000, with the Fire Department Capital Equipment Replacement Fund and the Highway Department Capital Equipment Replacement Fund each receiving $59,000 of that total. The proposed FY14 budget calls for that same amount to be approved for each fund. Before FY13 the Special Warning Items budget was over $300,000.
In total, the proposed town budget for Morristown for FY14 is $4,536,830. That total is up $138,612, or 3.2 percent, from the FY13 budget of $4,398,218.