Budget, capital plan items pass Rochester Town Meeting

May 24, 2021

ROCHESTER — There wasn’t much in the way of passing Annual Town Meeting articles on May 24.

Every agenda item at Rochester’s Town Meeting, held at Rochester Memorial School, was passed with little discussion.

Voters at the meeting passed the town’s $22.9 million overall operating budget — an increase of $350,000 over the Fiscal Year 2021 — with no discussion.

“What a difference a year makes,” Finance Committee Chair Kristian Stoltenburg said in a budget explanation before the meeting’s opening, noting the committee recommendations for the budget indicated “a growing sense of normalcy and optimism — unlike last year.”

Just over $13 million — or about 57% of the budget — is slated for educational costs, including the Rochester Memorial School, Old Rochester Regional, Old Colony Vocational Technical High School and Bristol County Agricultural High School budgets. An additional $1.9 million of the budget is set for fixed costs related to the schools.

Fixed costs for the town take up just under $1.8 million — around 8% — of the budget.

Public safety and general government spending take up about $4.2 million of the budget.

Another $1.3 million is set for public works, and the remainder of the budget — about $730,000 — will go toward human services and recreation.

Voters passed a number of capital plan items, totaling $201,190: A 10-wheel and six-wheel dump truck, poured flooring for the highway barn, updated technology and a new alarm system at Rochester Memorial School, irrigation for the Rochester Memorial playing field, and air conditioning and electrical improvements at the Council on Aging.

Finance Committee member David Arancio said that he and the committee “believe strongly” that the capital planning funds reflected the needs of the departments for which they were planned. He added that there would be no borrowing necessary for any of the items.

Voters also chose to raise the income and asset limits for exemptions granted to senior citizens in town.