Reading, MA — By a vote of 8-0 the Finance Committee (FinCom) voted to recommend a $109,621,926 Fiscal Year 2022 budget to Town Meeting on Wednesday, March 17. Included in that amount is $28,429,378 for shared costs, $30,736,400 for municipal operations, and $49,695,998 for the School Department. FinCom also voted 8-0 to recommend a $16,287,225 budget for water, sewer, stormwater, and PEG Access operations. The total recommended FY 2022 budget, including the general fund and the enterprise funds, is $125,129,001. These budgets will be considered by town meeting under Article 20 in April.
FinCom also voted 8-0 to recommend ten other warrant articles to Town Meeting. These include Article 4: to amend the capital plan, Article 5: to amend the Fiscal Year 2021 budget, Article 11: to extend tax relief to veterans with property in trusts, and Article 12: to extend tax relief to Gold Star parents whose child has passed away in combat. FinCom member Marianne Downing questioned why Article 12 did not apply to surviving spouses in the same situation. Chief Appraiser Victor Santaniello answered that those surviving spouses are in a different category and already receive benefits of this type.
FinCom voted 8-0 to recommend that Town Meeting authorize $3 million in debt for repairs and replacement to the Reading Memorial High School stadium turf field and track. It is expected that the stadium track project will be completed over the summer of 2022. FinCom also voted 8-0 to recommend that Town Meeting authorize $2.7 million in debt to replace the Parker Middle School roof. This project is also expected to be completed over the summer of 2022.
Town Manager Robert LeLacheur concluded the FinCom meeting by thanking the committee for its support during the pandemic, “FinCom’s approach, use of free cash, and stance that employee jobs should be preserved are appreciated.” LeLacheur commented. School Committee chair Chuck Robinson chimed in, thanking FinCom for its support of the schools and its collaborative budget process, all while “a lot is going on.”
FinCom chair Edward Ross accepted LeLacheur’s gratitude, “I’m grateful for every member of town staff and school staff, for all they have done and endured,” Ross shared. Ross also praised the School Committee for its thorough and transparent budget process.
FinCom adjourned at 8:30 pm.