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Town’s Budget Due to Grow by 4.45%

February 13, 2019

WILMINGTON -- Town Manager Jeff Hull is recommending a fiscal 2020 budget of $119.7 million, up about 4.45 percent from the FY19 budget.

New public-safety positions and increased school salaries have accounted for the biggest increases for the FY20 budget. The budget for FY19 was $114.6 million.

The proposed budget accounts for four additional police officer positions and four additional private positions in the fire department. Police personnel and fire personnel account for $280,092 and $267,628 in increases, respectively.

The town manager said the last time positions were added in the police department was in 2008 when two lieutenants were added. For the fire department, the last staffing increase was in 2009 when a private was added.

“It’s certainly been made clear to me that we can’t continue the same staffing levels, particularly on the police and fire, and even the social service category,” Hull said.

Hull said the number of runs for the fire department have increased 24.6 percent from 2009 to 2018, from 3,364 runs to 4,192. He added that police are responding to more complicated calls that relate to substance abuse and mental health, which can take more time.

The budget also includes $250,000 to replace frontline police cruisers.

A new full-time case worker for the Department of Elderly Services and Veterans Services is budgeted for $43,898. Hull said their is overlap in who the two departments serve, due to elderly veterans and spouses of veterans. The elderly population in town has increased by nearly 28 percent between 2010 and 2017 from 4,045 to 5,176 seniors. There are projections of about 6,000 seniors living in town by 2020.

Appropriations for the School Department are recommended to increase by $1.6 million, or 4 percent, to $41.9 million. The bulk of the increase comes from salary increases, amounting to $1.1 million. Increased special education costs make up $387,868 of the proposed budget and capital improvement costs amount to $605,000.

The proposed budget also includes a $580,000 increase for Shawsheen Valley Technical High School. Hull said the anticipated increase in enrollment of Wilmington students and an adjusted population of students from other communities has resulted in the increase.

“Particularly Billerica, with the new high school, the expectation is that the numbers may be down a bit there,” Hull said.

There are a number of capital improvements coming to town as well through the Department of Public Works. Resurfacing of sidewalks and roadways as well as additional vehicles, like a new bucket truck, are funded in the FY20 budget. The first year of a two-year project to repave the Woburn Street School parking lot is also being funded at $155,000.

Hull also touted a strong local economy. The average single-family home value in town has increased from $439,673 in FY18 to $481,922 in FY19.

“I think it’s more than fair to say that this past calendar year, it’s truly been a seller’s market with homes spending very little time on the market,” Hull said.

He also pointed out Analog Devices picking Wilmington as its headquarters and preparing for a $142.9 million expansion.

The budget will be voted on at the Annual Town Meeting scheduled for Saturday, May 4.

More information on the budget can be found online at www.wilmingtonma.gov .

Follow Kori Tuitt on Twitter @KoriTuitt.

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