Chelmsford Finance Committee Prioritizes Infrastructure and Community Services

In a recent meeting, the Chelmsford Finance Committee delved into the fiscal year 2025 budgets, putting a spotlight on the necessity for infrastructure improvements and the enrichment of community services.

A focus of the meeting revolved around the Department of Public Works, where the budgets for storm water, sewer, solid waste recycling, and facilities were reviewed. The Sewer Division budget saw a notable increase from $100,000 to $160,000, attributed to the high demand for drainage projects following recent severe weather events. The committee discussed the essential purchase of a camera truck for infrastructure inspection and raised concerns about the sustainability of funding for future projects, considering the eventual depletion of ARPA funds. Additionally, members expressed interest in exploring grant opportunities to support drainage infrastructure projects.

The Cemetery Commission’s budget presentation highlighted an uptick in overtime expenses due to late funerals and the non-operation of the newspaper on weekends. Increased costs for tree work were also noted, which were necessary due to storm damage, along with an ongoing rod iron fence project. The Human Services director reviewed the Council on Aging and Senior Center budget, emphasizing increased personnel longevity and reduced electricity and gas costs, thanks to the installation of solar panels. Furthermore, the budget included additional funding for Meals on Wheels and a partial maintenance person.

The Solid Waste and Recycling Collection budget was subject to a nearly 5% increase, stemming from a 1.93% rise in the contract with EO Harvey and a 2.5% hike in disposal fees at Covanta. The committee discussed the necessity for a new contract service line item and the tipping fees. The Municipal Facilities budget exhibited an 18% increase, chiefly due to staff reorganization and the addition of a Contract Services line item. Vehicle repair, grounds maintenance, and solar maintenance were areas that saw increases in expenditure.

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The committee also recognized the need for LED replacements townwide in the forthcoming 5 to 10 years, which was echoed in the level-funded Street Lighting budget. The SE Division, a self-funded enterprise fund, presented an 8.76% increase, with alterations in personnel services and expenses. The committee examined the 10-year Capital Improvement plan, focusing on pump stations and forcemain assessments, sewer Capacity and Debt Service adjustments, and the procurement of a flush truck for grinder pump maintenance.

The Storm Water Division budget discussions touched on a 2.5% increase, mainly due to the equipment repair and maintenance needs. The volume of catch basin and debris removal, especially at Swain Road, and the spiked cost of disposal were highlighted.

Aside from infrastructure, the committee reviewed the budget for the public education government access television, funded through a charge on cable bills, noting a conservative surplus fund estimate and the potential future request for fund transfer for equipment replacement.

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The library’s budget was also a focal point, with the director discussing community programs such as Fixit clinics, tals tales and trails project, and the McKay Branch’s reopening. The library’s significant increase in usage and value addition to the community were emphasized, aligning the budget request with the requirement for state aid and a 2.44% increase.

The finance department’s budget covered the divisions of accounting, assessors, information technology, and treasury and collection. Notable changes included an increase in the personnel budget to cover steps, cost of living increases, and upgrades to the classification system. The information technology department introduced new line item budgets for fiber optic network cables and expenses related to the old hardwired fire alarm system. The assessor’s office faced an increase in the revaluation update expense due to the upcoming recertification townwide valuation year, with discussions on the printing and mailing of tax bills and the suggestion to allow residents to opt-out of physical bills.

In the procedural part of the meeting, Jim Clancy and Anita Tanini were voted as the chair and vice chair, respectively. The committee also reviewed liaison assignments.

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Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Town Manager:
Paul Cohen
Financial Oversight Board Officials:

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