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    Jesse's plans for the FY24 Budget:

  1. Add a full-time grantwriter & a full-time Assistant Town Manager
  2. Those two new staff focus on bringing in grants to fund...
  3. Much more funding on street repair, park maintenance, & litter, since those are the expressed priorities of the people.
  4. To balance the budget, limit our two biggest budget increases, police & schools, with a promise to make up the difference with more grants there too.
  5. Summary budget: Net Increases and Net Decreases compared to Town Manager proposal
Here are the specifics to implement that plan. The "Jesse Budget" is based on the Town Manager's Final FY24 Recommended Budget -- with specific changes proposed for these line items (which I discuss below):

The "Jesse Budget" is not going to get fully implemented this year, because Town Councilors don't have the power to implement their own budget. But I'll raise these issues this year, and with public support, we can get these ideas and more into next year's budget. That requires fixing the budget process so more poeple can participate -- which to me means "more people pushing for more infrastructure spending on our streets and parks." I hear that from people all the time -- I want to get that vision into the budget!

    The process can be fixed by....

  • Publish a draft budget in April (as specified in our Town Charter)
  • People read it, and contact the Town Council to make their case for changes
  • Incorporate reasonable changes into the final draft
  • A "transparent process" that listens to the people!

Details of Jesse's FY24 Budget Recommendations

Each of the sections below is my rationale for increasing or decreasing a particular line item in the Town Manager's proposed FY24 budget. I plan to raise each of these items, within the rules of what Town Councilors have the right to do, in the Town Council discussions. Please come and please comment!

If all of these were implemented, the "Jesse Budget" would be balanced, with the same bottom line as the Town Manager's FY24 budget (that means the same tax rate applies to either budget). And please keep in mind what is NOT here:

  1. This is only about "operating expenses" -- the capital budget is separate
  2. The property tax rates are set in a separate vote after the main budget is passed, with votes about how much is covered by comemrical versus residential properties.
  3. The water/sewer rates are also set in a separate vote. Most of the water expenses are "capital expenses" for the new Water Treatment Plant -- not in this budget.
We can all talk about those three things at other times -- I have a lot to say on each of them! And I'd love to hear your input -- on the FY24 budget and on the other budget items too!

Here's the FY24 budget discussion:

ARPA grants ARPA was a grant that we have used wisely. But everyone was eligible for ARPA -- we COULD be eligible for MORE grants!

Grants from federal and state sources are "a river of money" -- but we need "nets" to scoop up our share from that vast flowing river. Randolph needs more nets! We don't ask for so many available grants! And often we leave ourselves ineligible to even ask!

p. 8 Dept 122 Town Manager; Line 512000: Increase "Assist Town Manager Stipend" from $0 to $250K for ATM grant coordination (net +$250,000)

Randolph needs an Assistant Town Manager to coordinate grants! We looked last year for an "ATM/HR position". This year we need to actually hire an ATM who also focuses on grant applications.

The ATM should be the primary coordinator for Town grant-writing: she talks to all department heads about their future needs; she aligns those needs with the expressed goals of the people of Randolph (such as "more street paving and more parks"); and she finds appropriate grant programs to fund those goals.

The Town Manager's budget does include some funding for an ATM, but only for the HR functions (it's part of line item 511100 "Professioal Salary"). I appreciate that the Town Manager included this line item at my recommendation, but my goal is an ATM for grant-writing purposes. And, to hire a full-time new staff member as our ATM -- like our current Town Manager previously served as ATM!

p. 19 Dept 151 Law; Line 530200: Increase "Special Counsel" from $150K to $200K for grant/Chapter-90 legal work (net +$50,000)

Randolph needs legal services to research for grants!

Often Randolph's successful grant proposals require specialty legal work. For example, legal help to correct the Census Bureau's under-count to make Randolph eligible for Gateway City grants. And we will need legal research to list "unaccepted streets" for Chapter 90 state funding for street repaving. And many other legal issues that arise in FY24.

p. 28-29 Dept 175 Planning; Line 530000: Increase "Professional Services" from $75K to $225K for grant-writing (net +$150,000)

Randolph needs more grant-writing! Our model should be our successful application for "CDBG Community Development Block Grants", where we hired specialty consultants to apply for competitive grants, and became newly eligible for a grant program that could bring Randolph a million dollars every year. Our targets should be programs specified by the people of Randolph in the Community Wellness Plan and the Randolph Master Plan (such as "more street paving and more parks").

I appreciate that the Town Manager increased the budget for grant-writing by $25,000, at my recommendation, to be used for applying for grants like the successful CDBG grant. But $25,000 is enough for only one or two grant applications -- I'd like to see one or two every month! An additional $150,000 would get Randolph started on a serious grant-writing schedule and a successful grant-writing process.

Look at the math: we invest $150,000 in grant-writing, and another $250,000 for an Assistant Town Manager to coordinate grants, and another $50,000 for legal services for grant-writing -- that's a total $450,000 investment. Every grant for which that team applies will bring in a half-million to a million dollars if successful. Sure, we won't win all our grant applciations -- but if we win half of a dozen grant applications, we pay back that investment ten-fold! (that's a modest schedule of one grant application per month, times a modest success rate of 50% wins, times an average of $750,000 per successful grant, for a total of $4.5 million on an investment of $450,000).

p. 31-32 Dept 210 Police; Line 511200: Decrease "Professional Services" from +$300K to +$150K (two fewer new hires; net -$150,000)

I support growing our police department, by adding one sergeant, one lieutenant, and one police officer in FY24. The proposed budget plans for three new police officers in FY24, which the police department could help find grants for the additional work. I propose 3 new positions instead of 5. In other words, the funding for the two extra new officers should instead go to grant-writing.

P.S. Last year, I voted in the Town Council for the Police Department's grant for $106,000 for "body-cams" for every police officer. That was a state grant -- and there are more like that!

p. 46-47 Randolph Public Schools; Line 500000: Decrease from +$2,999K to +$2,499K (net -$500,000)

I support increased funding for our schools, by adding two-and-a-half million dollars to last year's school budget. The Town-Manager-proposed school budget seeks to add three million dollars. I support "a monumental and historical ask" and I agree that Randolph should make a "significant investment" -- but we should do so by seeking additional education grants to fill in that extra half-million requested.

In other words, my proposed budget transfers $500,000 to grant-writing from the school budget increase. Our school system does apply for grants -- but we are leaving vast funds untapped. The "river of money" available from state and federal sources applies most directly to our schools -- by investing significantly in grant-writing our schools can get much more than $500,000 this year, and can get additional funding for future years too.

The School Budget isn't detailed in the Town Council presentation because the School Committee decides the line items. I'd like to make their process more transparent too, but this year I'd like to focus on getting the Randolph Schools more involved with Town grant-writing!

I propose a 5.4% overall increase instead of 6.5% overall increase. But I heard the teachers who came to speak at the Town Council, seeking the full 6.5% increase, and I support our teachers getting the pay increase that they seek.

The Town Council has no say over the details of the school budget -- but I'll make a reocmmendation because I know people will ask "which line item would you reduce by $500,000 to make up that difference?". I would recommend that the "Technology" line item be reduced from $1,174,247 to $674,247 (the full $500,000 net decrease).

P.S. I supported the School Department's grant for $137,173 ($91,973 for equipment and supplies and $45,200 for professional development). That was a public-private grant from the Massachusetts Life Science Center -- and there are lots more like that!

p. 48 DPW Highway; Lines 511700/520700/570000: Increase roads/parks by +$200K (net +$200,000)

  • Add $100,000 for 1 street staff and 1 park staff
    Proposed total: $1,186,462 / proposed increase: $132,374
  • Add $50,000 for surveying for Chapter 90
    Proposed total: $50,000 / proposed increase: $50,000
  • Add $50,000 for park maintenance equipment
    Proposed total: $50,000 / proposed increase: $50,000
  • Add net total of $200,000:
    Proposed total: $1,953,851 / proposed increase: $322,123
When the people of Randolph are asked for their priorities for Town government, they consistently say "more street paving and more parks". This is repeated in the Community Wellness Plan and the Randolph Master Plan, most recently with a huge preference for "Parks and Recreation" in the Master Plan survey at Powers Farm. The Town budget should respect the will of the people!

Our parks are maintained by the "Highway Department" and we clearly need a "Parks and Recreation Department." My budget proposes new hires to start creating a department that focuses on park maintenance, litter cleanup, and opening Randolph's open spaces to public access. More parks means better mental health as well as physical health, and ensures freely available family activities all over Randolph.

On street repaving, this Town Budget only deals with potholes/maintenance/repair -- and I think we should spend a lot more on that! We should also spend funds on the legal work needed to maximize our "Chapter 90" funding -- which will bring us more funds for street repaving every year forever, if we invest in the legal paperwork for "Accepted Streets" -- as I got passed by the Town Council in Town Council Order #2022-018 recently! Street repaving itself is mostly done in the capital budget, which the Town Council will vote on later in the summer.


Our town slogan "Fari Quae Sentiat" means please come to the Town Council budget discussion to "Say what you feel."

Committee to Elect Jesse Gordon, 52 West St, Randolph MA 02368

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