The North Kingstown Town Council got a look at the latest budget for next year at Monday night’s meeting. Among this year’s cuts are curbside recycling and the North Kingstown Animal Shelter.
Town Manager Michael Embury presented a preview of the budget via slideshow to the council and audience. According to Embury, the town’s budget for fiscal year 2012 includes a 3.36 percent increase – approximately $3 million more than last year’s budget. One figure that stuck out for Embury was the minimal increase in the town’s general fund.
“That needs to resonate with the public,” said Embury. “The general fund is only increasing by $56,175.”
Embury added that “major reductions” were made to keep the general fund where it is, including the closings of the animal shelter. The town will save an estimated $120,000 to $145,000 by closing the animal shelter and another $450,000 by cutting curbside recycling. The proposed budget also shows a $2 million drop in state revenue.
“It’s not getting any better,” Embury added.
The cuts also show a drop in full-time town employees from 2010. The current budget shows 167 full-time employees whereas last year the number was at 192. (In 2001, the number was 205.)
“It’s a fairly dramatic drop,” said Embury. “It’s not anything we haven’t seen in governments in the state or across the country.”
Embury stated the town will not be adding any positions this year and would “probably go lower” than the proposed 167 employees.
The school department’s budget looks to jump by $3.2 million, with $1.5 million of that coming from last year’s reserve, for a nearly six percent increase. In past meetings, Superintendent Phil Thornton forecasted this financial year to be substantially more trying than previous years due to the loss of federal education funding.
Tonight the Town Council and North Kingstown School Committee will hold a joint meeting at the at 7 p.m. to discuss the budget.