Current & Past Two Fiscal Year Town Budgets
Weymouth's annual operating budget is a financial plan that blueprints how Town funds will be spent in a given fiscal year. Steps for creating the budget are shown in the diagram below:
The following terms are useful in understanding the budget process.
The Chapter 70 program is the principal program for state aid to public elementary and secondary schools in Massachusetts. School districts are expected to receive a combination of state and local funding according to a formula in Chapter 70. This formula is intended to ensure that every school district has sufficient resources to provide an adequate education for all students regardless of the district's ability to pay.
Although Chapter 70's formula is quite complex, the short version is this: the state calculates a minimum amount of per pupil funding for a school district. It then calculates how much the district's city or town should be able to pay using local tax revenue. The difference, or gap, between these two figures becomes the amount of state funding that the school district receives for the upcoming fiscal year.
Note: The minimum amount of per pupil funding calculated by the state is referred to as the district's foundation budget. See the term "Net School Spending" below for more information.
Community Preservation Act (CPA)
The CPA allows cities and towns in Massachusetts to create a local Community Preservation Fund for the purpose of raising money to invest in open space protection, historic preservation, affordable housing, and outdoor recreation. Weymouth adopted the CPA in 2015 by ballot referendum. CPA funds are collected by a surcharge of one percent on top of the Town's real estate tax, with exemptions for income-qualified households and the first $100,000 of residential property value. While property taxes fund the day-to-day operating needs of the Town, the CPA gives Weymouth a steady funding source for preserving and improving the community’s character and quality of life.
Cities and towns establish enterprise funds as a way of managing fee-based services, such as water and sewer. Enterprise funds allow a community to demonstrate the true, total cost of providing these services by consolidating their costs, revenue, debt service, and capital expenditures into separate funds.
Weymouth has two enterprise funds: the Water Enterprise Fund and the Sewer Enterprise Fund. Revenue and expenses associated with these funds cannot be commingled with the revenue and expenses of other municipal activities (public safety, health, education, etc.). Any revenue remaining in these funds at the end of the fiscal year are considered "retained earnings". These earnings help pay future water or sewer expenses, including capital projects, such as delivery system repairs.
Government financial activities are organized by fiscal year. In Massachusetts, each fiscal year begins on July 1st of the current year and ends on June 30th of the next year. The name of each fiscal year is based on the year in which it ends. For example, the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2015 and ending June 30, 2016 is referred to as Fiscal Year 2016.
A level service budget describes the amount of funding required for a city or town's municipal departments to maintain current levels of service. The current fiscal year’s budget, plus cost increases, is typically used as the baseline for determining a level service budget.
Net School Spending
The Chapter 70 program establishes an annual net school spending requirement for each school district. This requirement is known as the district's foundation budget, or the minimum amount of per pupil funding the district requires to provide an adequate education for all students. A foundation budget is calculated annually based on a district's enrollment, demographics, inflation, and geographical wage differences. While the state provides need-based financial aid to cover a portion of each foundation budget, the remaining balance is intended to paid by a district's city or town as a "local contribution." Failure by a city or town to comply with this requirement over time can result in loss of state aid.
Prop 2 ½
Proposition 2 ½ is a state ballot initiative limiting how much cities and towns can raise through property taxes and how much cities and towns can increase the tax levy (or total amount raised) from year to year. First, a municipality cannot collect more than 2.5 percent of the total value of all property in the community. Second, a municipality cannot increase its levy by more than 2.5 percent, plus the value of its new developments, from year to year. Proposition 2 ½ contains some provisions that allow voters to approve exceptions to the 2.5-percent limit. These include voter-approved debt exclusions and overrides.
The tax levy is the total amount of revenue that the Town of Weymouth can raise through property taxes in a single fiscal year. The levy is the largest source of revenue for most cities and towns, and is traditionally used to fund the day-to-day operations of a local government. When collected, the levy is split between three different property taxes: residential, commercial/industrial, and personal. A municipality's levy cannot exceed 2.5 percent of the total value of property in the community.
The tax rate describes how much a property is taxed for every $1,000 of its value. Most cities and towns choose to split the tax rate between three different types of property: residential, commercial/industrial, and personal. This is known as the tax-rate “shift.” A shift means that residential property can be taxed differently than either commercial/industrial or personal property. Every year, the Town's Board of Assessors recommends a tax shift based on the various types of property townwide. The Town Council must choose to approve or amend the Board's recommendation.