STOCKBRIDGE — A preliminary plan presented by City Administrator Michael Canales for the select committee at its meeting last week proposed a fiscal year 2023 operating budget of $11.4 million, an increase of 6, 2%, or $665,000 over the current year’s total.
“This may be our first glimpse,” he said, with further discussions planned for future sessions.
Most of the increase comes from the proposed assessment of $3.62 million to the city for its elementary, middle and high school students in the Berkshire Hills Regional School District in Great Barrington.
The total — that’s $460,000 more than the current year — represents a 14.6% increase resulting from the addition of seven more Stockbridge students to Berkshire Hills district enrollment, as well as a decline in student numbers at Great Barrington.
“We have more kids, which is good,” coach Ernest J. “Chuck” Cardillo said. “Now we pay it.”
Canales also noted that the police department plans to seek approval to hire an additional officer.
Proposed capital expenditures include the purchase of a new fire truck for $960,000, which will be funded by a $1.29 million loan over 20 years, although some grants are a possibility, Canales said. The expected life of the vehicle is approximately 20 years.
Spending of up to $4 million is planned for infrastructure, including the Tuckerman Bridge and Averic Bridge projects, he said, which could be financed by 20-year bonds at an interest rate of 2 to 4%.
Reserve money available to the city includes $2.5 million in available cash and $2.4 million in a stabilization account, which requires the approval of two-thirds of city voters for withdrawals intended for finance specific projects.
“The city is in great financial shape overall,” Canales said, “with the exception of some deferred maintenance costs, which are catching up with us.”
Funds earmarked for OPEB (other post-employment benefits) for municipal retirees, primarily health insurance, amount to $3.7 million.
“It’s 100% funded, so we’re in great shape there,” Canales said.
The city received $565,000 in American Rescue Plan Act money, although $33,600 was committed to Tri-Town Health. The money can be used for any municipal purpose, but must be spent within the next two years.