Select Board Budget Meetings Conclude

Department Budget Presentations

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READING, MA — Town department heads made their final proposed fiscal year 2025 budget presentations to the Select Board on Tuesday night. Presentations included those from the Library, the Facilities department, Technology, and Finance. Chief Financial Officer Sharon Angstrom also shared the projected budgets for shared costs in FY 2025.



Library Director Amy Lannon proposed a $2,181,150 overall budget for the library in FY 2025. This is a 3.6% increase over FY 2024. She explained that the 3.7% increase in the budget designated for materials is in “lock-step” with the rest of the budget as required by Massachusetts state law. She also reported that increased programming and continued investment in materials of various types has given the community a measurable return of $8,001,904 based on FY 2023 numbers.



Joe Huggins, Director of Facilities, reminded the Select Board of the over 1,000,000 square feet of space his department manages. He is proposing a $3,311,210 budget for FY 2025, a 9.6% increase from FY 2024. Much of this increased cost is the result of energy costs, which are projected to increase by $232,800 or 11.8%. He also noted that there were 473 fewer work orders in FY 2023 than in FY 2022.



For Technology, Chief Technology Officer Kevin Furilla is requesting an FY 2025 budget of $1,166,500. This is a 3.69% increase over FY 2024. When questioned by Select Board member Christopher Haley, Furilla indicated that he could foresee his department needing additional administrative help in the coming years, as much of that work is currently handled by other Town Hall staff. 

Select Board member Mark Dockser initiated a discussion regarding audio improvements and amplification in the Select Board meeting room in Town Hall, the Pleasant Street Center, and the Library Community Room. Select Board member Karen Herrick added the Reading Memorial High School Performing Arts Center to that list. Furilla shared that his department has been investigating audio upgrades, recognizing the multiple players involved in each location, including RCTV, the need for hybrid meetings, and, in the case of the high school, the School Department. Dockser requested that these concerns be thought about as the FY 2025 budget is concluded, as not to do so would push solutions to the issues back “another 18 months.”



Angstrom requested a budget of $1,178,150 for the Finance Department, which includes Accounting, Collections, and Assessment. For shared costs, Angstrom is anticipating a budget of $31,520,000, a 2.4% increase over FY 2024. This includes an 8.1% increase in benefits costs driven mainly by a 16.8% increase in the pension assessment. Angstrom also shared that payments for debt will decrease by 20.6% as payments for both the high school and the Wood End school will be completed in FY 2024. 

Angstrom continued, reminding the Board that the savings in debt are debt exclusions and outside the general fund levy. Excluding those savings, the shared costs budget is increasing by 7.6%.


Before the Select Board adjourned to executive session, Town Manager Fidel Maltez provided the timeline for budget completion. He remarked that the budget book is “90 percent complete.” The School Committee will hold hearings on its proposed budget in January and will present its budget to the Town Manager by the end of January. The Finance Committee will receive the completed budget for review by the end of February, with Town Meeting approving a final budget in April.

The Select Board adjourned at 8:50 pm.

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