WILLIAMSTOWN -- While presenting the proposed fiscal year 2014 budget, Town Manager Peter Fohlin said the town is in a strong financial position.
"For the last few years, we have been focused on building our financial capacity in anticipation of building a new high school and a new police station, which we all know are down the road somewhere," he said.
The approximately $6.7 millonproposed budget includes an increase in spending of 2.4 percent, allowed by a 2.4 increase in revenue. In addition, the town currently has reserves of $1.27 million, in the form of $544,418 in unused levy capacity and a stabilization fund of $727,000.
"There was a time when the town had no unused levy capacity, which is a precarious place for a town to be," Fohlin said Thursday. The town could easily go into a deficit if something like excise tax revenue doesn't come in as projected, he said.
The budget includes a proposed increase of $25,000 to Inspection Services. The small department has had less room to move money around than larger departments if they encounter something unexpected, Fohlin said, because expenses have been closely calculated over the years.
Of that increase, $8,000 in health insurance costs would be offset by employees in other departments retiring, Fohlin said.
The budget also includes an increase of $14,854 to Public Safety, $28,144 to Public Works and $14,221 to Human Services, which includes the David & Joyce Milne Public Library, The Council on Aging and Veterans Services.
One factor that could change the budget is contract negotiations. All of the town contracts are up for renewal this year, Fohlin said, and the town has just begun negotiations with the Police Department.
"There's no way to tell how long these things will take," he said.
Another variable is the Latham Street culvert replacement, Fohlin said. The lowest bid for the project, by C.D. Davenport of Greenfield, was for $298,693, but the town only had budgeted $200,000. Fohlin said it may mean the project won't be done until next year.
Another unknown stems from one of the town's sander trucks falling into a ditch on Sloan Road earlier this winter.
The $140,000 truck was totaled, and the town will have to purchase a new one.
For the second year in a row, the town will see no increase in health insurance rates.
"That goes a long, long way toward being able to do other things," Fohlin said.
To reach Edward Damon, email