City Council/School Board - Workshop - 01/19/2022
On Wednesday, January 19, 2022, the Dover City Council and School Board met for their first joint workshop in the McConnell Center. The workshop topics included an overview from Dover's state legislative delegation, a review of the proposed ward redistricting, a presentation of the 2023 budget tax cap analysis, and a preliminary discussion on the fiscal year 2023 budget.
The meeting started with a Public Forum. Phil Hatcher of Dover spoke in regards to the ward redistricting happening in Dover. He spoke in support of the Alpha map option, as this option would support Dover in getting the best possible representation during the state redistricting process. Jodi Langellotti also spoke and encouraged the Council and School Board to remain cordial and maintain unity during the budget process.
Dover's state legislative delegation gave an overview of the goings-on in Concord this session. Presenters included state Senator David Watters, and Representatives Tom Southworth, Casey Conley, Peter Bixby, and Peter Schmidt. The delegation gave insight into the bills that are currently going through their committees, and bills they intend to bring forward. Topics included energy, election law, criminal justice reforms, and education. Some bills of particular interest are the restoration of the state's energy efficiency and heating assistance program, and a proposal to legalize cannabis with the proceeds going toward reducing or eliminating the statewide education property tax. Listen to the recording to hear about the bills in more detail.
Next, Deputy City Manager Christopher Parker gave a presentation on the proposed ward redistricting plan. The Ordinance Committee in partnership with City departments worked on 5 Maps, eventually selecting 1 finalist. The goals of the Committee were to bring the ward populations within 1% of each other, and to ensure that all polling locations could be in publicly owned buildings. The Epsilon map was ultimately chosen as the best option.
After, City Manager Mike Joyal gave a presenation on the Fiscal Year 2023 tax cap budget analysis. The tax cap states that the budget cannot be increased more than the Consumer Price Index for Boston-Cambridge-Newton-MA-NH. This year, the CPI was 3.3%. This means the Dover budget can be increased by a total of $2,399,575.00 for Fiscal Year 23. Unfortunately for Dover, the analysis shows that there is also a $2M decrease in the amount of state aid being received by the City due to cuts in the statewide education property tax.
The City Council and School Board then had a preliminary discussion about the FY23 budget. The Schools are facing another tough budget season due to the state aid cuts exacerbated by inflation, including increasing costs of health insurance, salaries, transportation, natural gas and electricity. This year the school board will also be renegotiating the union contracts for the district. School Business Administrator Michael Limanni gave an overview of the challenges the district is facing and the plans for the budget. The schools will soon be presenting a tax cap compliant budget, and a budget designed to meet the districts contractual obligations. Both versions of the budget will likely include cuts to staffing. Listen to the entire discussion, including questions and comments asked by the Council, here.