Be a Hingham Steward – Your Voice Matters!

March 2, 2023 by Glenn Mangurian

The Hingham budget review process is in “full swing”. The Town Administrator and School Superintendent have made their requests to their elected, volunteer review boards – Select Board and School Committee respectively. The School Committee has approved the Superintendent’s request. The Select Board is conducting its final review and approval of the Municipal budget request. Those approvals will then be forward to the Advisory Committee (AdCom) for review and final recommendation to the April Town Meeting. As always, the voters of Hingham will consider their recommendations and make the final decision on the FY24 budget level.

Background to FY24 Operating Budget

The last Hingham budget operating override was in 2009 for the FY2010 budget. Over the ensuing twelve years, conservative financial management has resulted in the following:

·       The Town has maintained Operating Budgets within the Prop. 2 ½ budget constraints benefiting residents during those twelve years as well as the past two years by relatively small property tax increases. Up until last Fall, no major capital projects (“debt exclusions”) were proposed. During this fourteen year time period most of our peer communities approved one or more overrides as well as “debt exclusions”.

·       The Town experienced a decade of growth, revenue surpluses and” turn-backs” of unused approved budgets adding substantially to the Unassigned Fund Balance (“Rainy Day Fund”) which is now in excess of town financial policy guidelines.

·       The Municipal and School Departments deferred and accumulated their unmet needs that were not funded under the Prop. 2 ½ constraints for twelve years.

·       In 2021, the combination of accumulated deferred needs and the Covid pandemic created a series of Municipal and School requests (for FY22) that could not be funded within the Prop. 2 ½ constraints thus creating a budget deficit.

·       The Select Board, School Committee and AdCom reviewed the requests and were aligned in recommending to Town Meeting that a Balanced Budget be funded using one time Federal Funds and monies from the Rainy Day Fund. Consideration of an override for the budget deficit was deferred to the 2022 Town Meeting (FY23 Budget).

·       In 2022, Municipal and School Departments requested Level Services FY23 budgets with a carryover of the deficit from FY22. One time funds were again approved by Town Meeting to create a Balanced Budget while deferring consideration of an override for a second year to 2023 (FY24 Budget).

·       Rather than continue to defer the override to future years, this year’s Town Meeting will consider and vote on whether to reduce the Town services that were approved the previous two years or sustain/enhance them with an override.

Municipal Budget History and Enhanced Serviced FY24 Request

The actual presentations of the Municipal and School budgets are different in format. I have used the actual Municipal budget information for FY22 and FY23 as reported on the Hingham website. That budget information indicates that from FY22 to FY23 (current year) the Municipal budget grew from $29.9 million to $32.5 million or 8.6%. A Balanced Budget (operating within the Prop. 2 ½ constraints) would be $33.3 million but would require a reduction of$2.2 million or at least 22 FTEs (Full Time Equivalent personnel) without an override. A Level Services budget (no reductions in FTEs) would be $35.5 million or 9.3% increase over FY23. The FY24 request includes $1.2 million for enhanced/expanded service (including four full time fire fighters) and would total $36.7 million or 13% increase over FY23. That request would defer unmet needs of a $.5 million.

School Budget History and FY24 Request

According to the School Department budget request presentation, from FY22 to FY23 (current year) the School Department budget grew 1.4%. A Balanced Budget (operating within the Prop. 2 ½ constraints) would be $61 million and would require a reduction of$4 million or at least 60 FTEs from current service levels without an override. A Level Services School budget (no reductions in FTEs) would be $65 million or 5% increase over FY23. The FY24 request includes $ .7 million for enhanced/expanded service (including technology funding, a full time nurse coordinator, professional staff development and an offset for full day kindergarten tuitions) and would total $65.7 million or 6% increase over FY23. That request would defer unmet needs of $.8 million for fully funded kindergarten.


AdCom will review the two requests and their rationale. Those reviews could increase, decrease or accept the budgets as presented. Both Municipal and School leaders have included some of the accumulation of deferred unmet needs in this year’s budget request. Right now, the override needed to support the budget deficit would be $8.2 million per year or $205 per quarterly pay period for the median tax bill. That number could change based on AdCom’s recommendation. A Balanced Budget would require a reduction of 80-90 FTE and significant reduction in all town services. AdCom values resident comments now and at the Town Meeting.

Your Voice Matters

The School Department Budget will be discussed at the Hingham AdCom Meeting on Thursday March 2, 2023, at 7:00 PM. Residents can attend in person at the Town Hall, Third Floor, South Hearing Room. Alternatively, residents can dial in: 929-205-6099 or use Zoom:  with Meeting ID: 839 8953 8770 and Passcode: 1135. Hingham stewards are engaged. Make your voice heard.

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