DANVERS — The town budget will benefit from a $1 million increase in state aid for education, but help from the state is still down $1 million from fiscal 2009.
The town is also facing an 8 to 10 percent increase in its health insurance, something that Town Manager Wayne Marquis said is unacceptable.
Such are the challenges of the fiscal 2013 spending plan put forward by Marquis and Assistant Town Manager Diane Norris at last night's selectmen's meeting in Town Hall.
"We are seriously considering going out to bid for health insurance, which is something we haven't done for a long time," Marquis told the board.
The budget is balanced and provides "affordable, quality services," Marquis said. It calls for general government spending of $25.7 million, an increase of 3.2 percent; a 4 percent increase in a school budget of $33.3 million; and a 1.6 percent increase for the library, with a budget of $1.2 million.
The total spending plan weighs in at just over $97.4 million. The budget requires approval from Town Meeting in May, and last night's hearing was just the first in what will be a series of hearings over the next month with department heads.
The budget rests on several assumptions, including $8.6 million in state aid. That's more than $1 million above fiscal 2012, but well below the $9.5 million the town received a few years ago. The added state education aid was due to the town falling below a funding threshold in the complicated Chapter 70 funding formula.
This coming fiscal year is the peak year for debt payments for the nearly $71 million high school project, with borrowing costs estimated at $1.9 million. This is something the town has accounted for with its high school/middle school stabilization fund.
On the additional revenue side, the town will pick up $1.5 million more from its allowed increase under Proposition 21/2, new growth of $600,000, an additional $239,000 in hotel room taxes, $149,000 more in added meals taxes, and a $700,000 grant from Danvers Electric to offset the energy-efficient design in the renovated Danvers High.
Spending on the general government side is going up by $800,000, and the schools are spending $1.3 million more, with much of that due to contractual salary increases and the need to buy supplies like textbooks.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @DanverSalemNews.