Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Comparable Communities Financial Data

 

I apologize for not posting in quite some time.  I hope to be able to post more regularly in the immediate future.

The Board of Selectman and the Warrant Committee have committed to the need for an operational override next spring to fund town-wide operational budgets. This would be the first override of this type in 7 years. That being the case, it seems like a good time to look at some financial comparisons between Milton and comparable communities – data I’ve posted on at least two prior occasions, the last in 2009. You can learn about the criteria for selecting comparable towns here:


Average Single Family Tax Bill, Rank Order 

Town---------------------------------------Tax Bill

Belmont-----------------------------------$10,983

Westwood--------------------------------$ 9,999

Sharon-------------------------------------$ 9,617

Needham---------------------------------$ 9,240

Hingham----------------------------------$ 8,697

Westborough----------------------------$ 8,045

Milton-------------------------------------$ 7,880

Westford---------------------------------$ 7,543

Holliston---------------------------------$ 7,495

North Andover-------------------------$ 6,851

Reading----------------------------------$ 6,824

Walpole---------------------------------$ 6,693

Scituate---------------------------------$ 6,454 

Median Family Income

Town-----------------------------------------Income 

Needham-----------------------------------$160,644

Westwood----------------------------------$157,656

Sharon---------------------------------------$143,630

Hingham------------------------------------$142,820

Westford------------------------------------$137,240

Belmont-------------------------------------$135,676

Milton---------------------------------------$133,446

Holliston-------------------------------------$130,647

Westborough------------------------------$126,902

Reading-------------------------------------$122,512

North Andover----------------------------$121,414

Scituate-------------------------------------$117,457

Walpole-------------------------------------$109,206 

Tax As A Percentage of Income

Town----------------------------------------% of Income 

Belmont---------------------------------------8.1

Sharon-----------------------------------------6.7

Westwood------------------------------------6.3

Hingham---------------------------------------6.1

Walpole----------------------------------------6.1

Milton------------------------------------------5.9

Needham-------------------------------------5.8

Holliston--------------------------------------5.7

Reading---------------------------------------5.6

North Andover------------------------------5.6

Westford-------------------------------------5.5

Scituate---------------------------------------5.5 

Non-Residential Assessed Value 

Town------------------------------------------% 

Westborough------------------------------35.5

Westford------------------------------------15.3

Needham*----------------------------------13.7

Walpole*------------------------------------13.6

Hingham------------------------------------12.8

North Andover*---------------------------12.8

Westwood*---------------------------------12.5

Holliston------------------------------------12.5

Reading---------------------------------------8.6

Sharon----------------------------------------7.1

Belmont--------------------------------------5.6

Scituate---------------------------------------4.5

Milton*---------------------------------------3.9

*Towns with split tax rates 

Municipal Revenue Growth Factor –MGRF measures annual growth rates of revenues. 

Town---------------------------------MRGF Avg./2011-2015

Needham------------------------------------4.54

Westford-------------------------------------4.50

Westborough-------------------------------4.49

Hingham-------------------------------------3.80

Walpole--------------------------------------3.63

Sharon----------------------------------------3.50

Westwood-----------------------------------3.46

Belmont--------------------------------------3.27

North Andover----------------------------- 3.24

Holliston----------------------------------- --3.19

Scituate---------------------------------------2.90

Milton-----------------------------------------2.65

Reading---------------------------------------2.61 

Expenditures By Major Segments 

Education 

Town-------------------------------------------% Budget 

Holliston----------------------------------------59.04

Sharon-------------------------------------------58.60

North Andover---------------------------------55.19

Westford----------------------------------------54.17

Westwood--------------------------------------52.95

Scituate------------------------------------------52.84

Westborough-----------------------------------51.76

Belmont------------------------------------------51.71

Walpole------------------------------------------51.31

Milton--------------------------------------------50.90

Needham----------------------------------------49.61

Reading------------------------------------------48.61

Hingham-----------------------------------------48.45 

Police 

Town----------------------------------------------% Budget 

Milton-----------------------------------------------8.74

Belmont---------------------------------------------7.49

Walpole---------------------------------------------6.12

Scituate---------------------------------------------6.07

North Andover------------------------------------6.05

Reading---------------------------------------------6.00

Hingham--------------------------------------------5.92

Sharon-----------------------------------------------5.29

Westford--------------------------------------------5.29

Hollliston--------------------------------------------4.82

Westwood------------------------------------------4.76

Needham-------------------------------------------4.32

Westborough--------------------------------------3.39 

Fire 

Town----------------------------------------------%Budget 

Scituate---------------------------------------------7.14

Milton-----------------------------------------------6.78

North Andover------------------------------------6.56

Hingham--------------------------------------------6.23

Belmont---------------------------------------------5.98

Needham-------------------------------------------5.48

Reading---------------------------------------------5.24

Walpole---------------------------------------------4.79

Westborough--------------------------------------4.67

Westwood------------------------------------------4.50

Sharon-----------------------------------------------4.26

Westford--------------------------------------------3.45

Holliston---------------------------------------------1.45 

Public Works 

Town-----------------------------------------------% Budget 

Reading----------------------------------------------8.23

Milton------------------------------------------------7.14

Scituate----------------------------------------------7.04

Belmont----------------------------------------------6.92

North Andover-------------------------------------6.60

Walpole----------------------------------------------6.26

Holliston---------------------------------------------5.94

Hingham---------------------------------------------5.92

Westwood------------------------------------------5.84

Westford--------------------------------------------5.41

Sharon-----------------------------------------------5.31

Westborough--------------------------------------4.77

Needham-------------------------------------------3.71 

Debt Service 

Town----------------------------------------------% Budget 

Sharon-----------------------------------------------12.73

Westborough--------------------------------------12.72

Holliston--------------------------------------------10.83

North Andover-------------------------------------9.02

Hingham---------------------------------------------8.51

Needham--------------------------------------------8.34

Westford--------------------------------------------8.33

Westwood-----------------------------------------7.55

Belmont--------------------------------------------6.94

Reading---------------------------------------------5.82

Milton-----------------------------------------------5.67

Walpole---------------------------------------------3.59

Scituate---------------------------------------------3.44 

Expenditures Per Capita –A rough approximation of the amount of services provided 

Town--------------------------------------------Exp. Per Capita 

Westwood----------------------------------------$4544

Westborough------------------------------------$4383

Westford------------------------------------------$3889

Needham------------------------------------------$3856

Hingham-------------------------------------------$3640

Holliston-------------------------------------------$3552

Sharon---------------------------------------------$3521

Scituate--------------------------------------------$3250

Reading--------------------------------------------$3085

Milton----------------------------------------------$3053

Belmont--------------------------------------------$3000

Walpole--------------------------------------------$2980

North Andover-----------------------------------$2471 

Free Cash Balances – FY2014 Ranked by % of Budget 

Town-----------------------Amount--------------% Budget

Hingham--------------$6,169,000------------------13.85

Reading---------------$ 7,584,000------------------8.03

Westford-------------$7,697,000-------------------7.36

Needham-------------$10,133,000-----------------6.53

Walpole---------------$ 5,353,000------------------6.04

Westwood-----------$ 3,806,000-------------------4.83

Westborough-------$ 3,891,000-------------------3.99

Scituate-------------- $ 2,813,000-------------------3.65

North Andover------$ 2,462,000-------------------2.57

Holliston--------------$ 1,358,000-------------------2.24

Milton-----------------$ 2,005,000-------------------2.04

Sharon----------------($335,339)---------------------(.43) 

Stabilization Fund – Rank by % of Budget 

Town--------------------Amount------------------% Budget 

Holliston---------------$3,969,000-------------------6.56

North Andover-------$3,773,000-------------------3.94

Needham--------------$5,955,000-------------------3.84

Westford--------------$3,670,000--------------------3.51

Milton------------------$3,233,000--------------------3.29

Westwood-----------$2,546,000---------------------3.51

Scituate---------------$2,161,000---------------------2.80

Westborough------- $2,236,000---------------------2.29

Walpole---------------$1,561,000---------------------1.76

Belmont-------------- $   250,575---------------------.23

Sharon----------------$    100,378---------------------.13

Hingham---------------------0-----------------------------0

Reading----------------------0-----------------------------0 

Comments

Milton’s average single family tax bill, Median Family Income, and the average tax bill as a percentage of income remain in the middle of the pack as they did 6 years ago. We moved from 8th to 7th in tax bill and income, while moving from 7th to 6th in tax burden. 

The percentage of our assessed value remains the lowest of the 13 communities, at 3.9%  The share of property taxes from commercial is higher because Milton, like 4 other communities on the list, has a split tax rate, charging a higher rate for commercial than for residential.

Our annual growth in revenues, as measured by the MRGF is 12th out of 13 communities. At a five year average of 2.65 % it barely exceeds the 2.5% permitted under Proposition 2 ½ and reflects a systemic revenue problem that can only be addressed by periodic overrides.

Major budget segment allocations show some changes since 2009.

·         The school spending allocation increased almost 5 percentage points to 50.9% of the budget moving Milton from last in rankings to number 10.

·         Police and Fire allocations remained at (Police) or near (Fire) the top of rankings. Fire moved up from 5th to 2nd.

·         Public Works increased from 5.96% of expenditures to 7.14%, boosting our ranking from 5th to 2nd.

·         The cost of debt service remains low, at 5.67% of budget, ranking 11th among the towns and below the state wide average of 6.96%

·         Expenditures per capita provides a rough approximation of the level of services provided by the town.  Milton remains at 10th in ranking, with expenditures of $3053 per person, almost $1500 per person less than the number one town, Westwood.

Milton’s Free Cash balance for FY 2014 ranked 12th out of the 13 communities, as a percentage of budget.  At 2.04% we remain short of the Department of Revenue’s suggested range of 3-5% of budget.  It has only been in recent years that we’ve begun to generate Free Cash in any substantial amount and taxpayers need to understand that the existence of $2 million in Free Cash doesn’t mean we can avoid overrides. Such balances are necessary to fund expenditures such as Capital items, and as a source of contributions to the Stabilization Fund.

And our Stabilization Fund has $3,233,360 in it (FY2014) which as a percentage of our budget ranks us 5th among the towns. Some towns with very large Free Cash balances have little or no balance in the Stabilization Fund, such as Hingham, Reading, and Sharon.

Between these two funds we have 5.33% in reserves which meets the DOR’s recommended range of 5-7%.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments:

Blogger Suzette Martinez Standring said...

As always, an informative and factual post. Thank you for doing this!

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sick of the overrides to fix the not broad enough commercial base in Milton. The solution is not to continually raise the real estate taxes. It seems every few years the demand for another override comes with the promise of looking for a solution with the cash flow problems. Our taxes have practically doubled since we moved to this town 10 yrs ago. It's time to stop asking for overrides and get a real solution.

2:42 PM  

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