On The Horizon
· School Space Needs: New residential developments have and will continue to create a space crunch in our current elementary and middle school. The School Committee continues to investigate all the options to address space needs.
· School Budget: Each year the Schools face many challenges from a budgetary standpoint. Their contract costs often rise at a rate greater than 2.5%. They also face many State mandated expenses which increase their operating needs, the most significant and volatile of which is Special Education which can run as much as $250,000 per student per year.
· OPEB: Canton has made promises to its employees to not only provide pensions upon retirement, but health, dental and life insurance. The Town only started setting aside money for these Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) at 2012’s town meeting with the establishment of the OPEB Trust fund. The unfunded liability for these benefits is currently about $90 million and the Finance Committee recommended placing $770,000 into this fund for FY17. At this time, the State has not taken steps to address this issue. At some point in the future, the State may change the rules around OPEB, reducing our liability, but at the same time, requiring the Town to fully fund the liability. While putting aside some money now will put the Town in a better financial situation than surrounding communities, the annual cost will likely be substantial. At the end of FY16, the OPEB trust balance is projected to be $2 million.
· Storm Water Management: The Town of Canton has an investment of over $100,000,000 in the municipal separate storm water system [MS4]. As owners and operators of the MS4 system, the Town is subject to the current [2003 – 2008] and expected [Summer 2016] EPA General Permit. Compliance with the permit is predicated on water quality and not just hydraulic flow. The new MS4 permit is expected to require significant new funding needs to achieve water quality stipulations. For Canton, EPA estimates the administrative costs alone at $100,000 per year. The new MS4 permit will require Canton to identify the means through which the storm water management program will be funded on an adequate and sustainable basis. This may require establishment of fees and an enterprise account in the future.
· Roads: Canton has traditionally relied on Chapter 90 grants (about $800,000 per year) from the
State in order to repair the Town’s road system. Unfortunately, this funding has been insufficient
and the Town’s roads have deteriorated. The Town’s last road study suggested that $28 million
was needed to bring the Town’s roads up to a good condition. Unless there is a significant
increase in Chapter 90 funding, Canton will need to begin investing our dollars into maintaining
the Town’s roadways by including it in the Town’s Capital Plan.