Select Board Begins FY25 Budget Review

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READING, MA — The Select Board began its annual overview of the Fiscal Year 2025 budget this past Wednesday with Department heads from Public Safety, Public Works, Public Services, and Administrative Services presenting their proposed budgets to the board. Each department head shared their department’s role along with highlighting accomplishments from the past year. Many also looked ahead to projects for the coming year.


Fire Chief Greg Burns reported no proposed staffing changes for his department, including 53 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions. The department has had 4,218 responses to date in 2023, including 62 fires, 32 of which were structure fires. The department has had 2,428 emergency medical responses to date in 2023. Burns requested a FY 2025 budget of $6,356,896, which is a 3.94% increase over FY 2024.


Police Chief David Clark shared that, due to ongoing union negotiations, he is not yet able to present specific budget numbers to the board. He did say that they have concluded negotiations with two of the three unions and that the agreement with the patrol officers union was nearing completion, waiting for a vote of the members. Clark did report that the department is fully staffed with 46 sworn officers and that one promotion to sergeant is forthcoming. The Police Department has fielded 18,481 calls for service to date in 2023, with 36,113 dispatch log entries. The Reading Coalition for Prevention and Support has engaged 2,256 individuals with prevention activities with 215 crisis follow-up calls.


Public Health Director Ade Solarin has four FTEs in his department and is seeking a budget of $518,875, which is a 4.3% increase. Most of the increase is related to the director’s hours being increased from 37 and a half hours to 40 hours weekly. The weights and measures inspector has also been moved from the expenses line item to the salaries line item.


Retiring Public Works Director Jane Kinsella oversees a department with 60 FTEs and five seasonal employees. She reported that the administration and engineering lines have been level-funded for FY 2025, but she is recommending an increase in the highway line item of $60,000. Kinsella is recommending a total budget of $4,235,100, which is an increase of 4.6%; 3.7% of that increase is for higher fuel expenses.

Kinsella also reported that the Water Department is seeking a .6% increase, the Sewer Department a 1% increase, and the Stormwater Department a 3.4% increase over FY 2024 with no new staffing requests. She was quick to point out that these proposed increases do not include any capital debt.

Assistant Town Manager Matt Kraunelis, who oversees the Public Service and Administrative Service Departments, asked each of his division heads to present their individual budgets. In a summary of these budget requests, Kraunelis suggests a total budget of $3,005,300 for Administrative Services, a 7.08% increase over FY 2024. This department includes Operations, the Office of the Town Manager, the Town Clerk’s office, Human Resources, and the Community Development division. Kraunelis noted that a significant portion of the increase is due to higher projected insurance costs as well as the addition of the presidential election in November of 2024.


Kraunelus continued to summarize the overall budget request for the Public Services Department at $1,781,789, a 1.81% increase over FY 2024. This department includes Recreation, Veterans Services, and Elder and Human Services. Community Services Director Genevieve Fiorente reported that there have been 6,500 program registrations in 2023, which is 2,000 more than in 2022. Elder Services has had over 28,000 interactions in the last year as well.

The Select Board will resume its budget overview on Tuesday, December 12, and adjourned at 9:30 pm.

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