Proposed $105 million Middleboro budget to limit school spending

Feb 6, 2024

MIDDLEBORO —  The town of Middleboro's proposed Fiscal Year 2025 budget is a "sustainable budget that will stand on its own," according to Middleboro Town Manager Jay McGrail. But with only a 4% increase in school spending, the Middleboro School District may find the budget to be disappointing.

The proposed budget weighs in at $105.3 million for FY 2025, an increase from FY 2024’s $99.9 million budget. McGrail presented the budget on Feb. 5 at a joint presentation with the Middleboro Select Board and the Middleboro Finance Committee. McGrail said that the budget was based on conservative estimates of how much revenue the town would receive in FY 2025, and said that the town faced increased costs including a 5-6% increase in health insurance costs.

The new budget would likely come as a disappointment to the Middleboro School District. The budget includes a 4% increase in school spending, McGrail said, from $39 million in FY 2024 to $41 million. McGrail said that he had “heard” that the school was likely seeking about a 10% increase to  maintain the same levels of services that they provide to their students.

“The schools are working to find ways to manage that increase,” McGrail said. “Unfortunately right now we're in a position where to be able to present a balanced budget… [4%] is the number we can work with.”

One challenge facing the budget is that the amount of aid the town receives from the state has essentially held steady compared to the prior year, McGrail said. The majority of the money that the town receives from the state comes in the form of Chapter 70 funding, which provides funding for public schools. 

“With no increase in Chapter 70, the town absorbs that complete [4%] increase” in the school budget, McGrail explained.

Aside from education, McGrail said that the budget would maintain “level staffing” for the police department. The new budget will also change the way dispatching works for the Fire Department. Currently, a trained firefighter responds to calls requesting the services of the Fire Department, but McGrail explained that the new budget would have calls be answered by a civilian, allowing the firefighter to respond to emergencies and effectively increasing the number of firefighters available to the town.

Overall, the proposed budget increases police spending from $6.2 million in FY 2024 to $6.7 million in FY 2025, and increases fire spending from $4.4 million in FY 2024 to $4.6 million in FY 2025.

Spending on employee fringe benefits, which include expenses such as health insurance for town employees, is also set to increase in the proposed budget from $22 million in FY 2024 to $23 million in FY 2025.

Another expense facing Middleboro, McGrail said, is the need to pay off debt related to the new Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School building. McGrail’s budget presentation described the debt as a “significant challenge.”

The biggest category of expenses in the budget are education ($41 million) followed by employee fringe benefits ($23 million) and public safety ($12 million).

Overall, McGrail said that he was “happy with this final recommended budget.”