TOWNSEND -- Budget projections for fiscal year 2015 are up to $18.49 million, a 4.6 percent increase from last year.
Increases in the town's school assessments drove the budget up from original projections that called for a 2.3 percent increase, Town Administrator Andrew Sheehan said.
"It forced us to basically throw out what we had in December - that memo will not be applicable anymore," Sheehan told selectmen Tuesday night.
Between the North Middlesex Regional School District, which increased its budget by 2 percent for fiscal 2015, and the Nashoba Valley Technical High School, which raised its budget 5 percent, the town's assessments went up about $475,000 from last year, Sheehan said.
This amount exceeds the town's tax levy increase from Proposition 2 1/2, which totals about $350,000, causing a major hit to the town's finances.
"We're already in the hole just with the school assessments alone," Sheehan said.
Selectman Sue Lisio said she did not support the 5 percent increase at Nashoba Tech.
"I almost 100 percent support the schools, but I cannot support a 5 percent increase. That to me just says there is no concern for other needs," Lisio said.
To compensate for the increase in expenditures, Sheehan said he upped the estimates for local receipts. He said the town is typically very conservative on these projections, and while the revised budget offers less of a cushion, the estimates are still reasonable.
Sheehan said the budget is still subject to change as the town awaits final numbers from the state on local aid.
The major increase in the fiscal 2015 budget is a 7 percent increase in health insurance costs, Sheehan said.
While most department budgets are remaining level-funded in fiscal 2015 due to economic necessity, Sheehan said this reality is unfortunate and unrealistic.
"This is an unsustainable practice as costs continue to rise and departments, though level-funded, fall further behind due to normal inflationary pressures," Sheehan wrote in a memo to selectmen.
In the memo, he described Townsend as having "a revenue problem."
"Local aid is at FY2006 levels and is well below the peaks we saw prior to the Great Recession. We would have much greater flexibility in both the operating and capital budgets if we were receiving the local aid we received in fiscal 2008 or fiscal 2009," the memo said.