As the Town Council prepared to vote on Mayor Joseph Sullivan's fiscal year 2014 budget, Sullivan, in a moment of self-described bravado, said he would put up the product of Braintree's $106 million plan against the services of any town.
"This budget is a good, strong document," Sullivan said, adding that it allows Braintree to provide a level of education, public safety and capital spending that is the "envy of a lot of communities."
Councilors voted 8-0 in favor of the general budget. Its $5.5 million increase in spending over the current year is generated largely from real estate taxes, but also from local receipts, state aid and a newly-approved meals tax. Councilor Ronald DeNapoli was absent Tuesday night.
The school department will receive nearly two-thirds of the year-over-year increase. Much of that money will go toward contractually-obligated pay raises, special education spending requirements and several new teachers.
Additional funding will go toward hiring five new police officers, building Braintree's reserves and a number of infrastructure projects, such as the 100 Roads Program, moving the Braintree Emergency Management Agency to Doherty Gym, refurbishing the Old Thayer Public Library, and upgrading classroom door handles, cameras and other aspects of school security.
The $106 million document does not include the golf, water and sewer enterprise accounts, which total an additional $17.2 million. Councilors did not make any changes to the budget.
Aside from education, the largest department increases are in Human Resources ($2,225,008), Blue Hills Regional ($395,941), Police ($298,295) and Finance ($406,419). See the documents attached to this article for more detail.
The budget relies on $14.2 million in local receipts such as the motor vehicle excise tax, the trash fee and other sources, $19 million in overall state aid, and $76 million from the tax levy.
Motions on the general budget and separate parts, including the enterprise accounts and capital plan, passed through quickly and without debate Tuesday following what Ways & Means Chair Paul "Dan" Clifford estimated at 72 hours of examination by himself, the town auditor and councilors.
"It's been very scrupulously and diligently reviewed," Clifford said.
The only dissent came by way of Councilor Sean Powers voting against the meals tax as part of Sullivan's budget and a request from Blue Hills Regional to create a stabilization fund.
Councilors voted that fund down, though it will still take effect based on other towns voting for it. Turn to Braintree Patch for more on that issue, on Leland Dingee's announcing he will not seek re-election and for more on the council commending Supertintendent Dr. Peter Kurzberg on his upcoming retirement.