Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

Finance Committee, January 29, 2024

Town Clerk’s Budget

The Town Clerk’s budget has some notable changes, such as an increase in salary for the clerk. The longevity line decreased because a long-time employee retired. School union contract costs remain consistent with previous years.

Expenses show incremental changes. Advertising expenses have been reduced due to a reduction in legal notice language. Electronic voting equipment costs include the maintenance of 21 machines and town meeting clickers, which undergo contractually scheduled increases. Office supplies have been stable, though printing costs for ballots have increased due to the number of elections. The training budget was specifically highlighted as an area of growth, aimed to keep staff up-to-date and knowledgeable in response to detailed town meeting member inquiries. After some discussion and clarification, the Town Clerk’s budget was approved unanimously for $304,086.

Elections Budget

The Elections budget reflects the number of elections scheduled for the year. There’s an expected transfer needed for FY 2024 due to an underbudgeted amount resulting from an unplanned override election. The printing ballots line item increased because the town needs to have sufficient ballots for all registered voters even though a significant number vote by mail. Overtime expenses are not expected this year. A significant increase in coding costs is expected due to an increased number of elections and the need to code ballots for electronic machines. Early voting will also be available for the presidential primary and election, which could impact costs. The Elections budget was approved for $278,704.

Registrars Budget

Regarding the Registrars budget, turnover led to decreases in longevity costs, and there is an expectation of HR involvement to adjust position levels. The census mailing costs increase if residents fail to return censuses, but the hope is that consistent reminders will eventually reduce the need for these mailings. After discussion, the budget for the board of registrars was approved at $26,360.

Legal Department Budget

The Legal Department sees a budget increase due to the new town counsel. There was discussion about the costs of outside counsel and efforts to gain more insight into specific legal expenditures. While probing, it was noted that there are grants and other budget line items that may cover consultants’ costs. Legal department expenses cover bar association dues, legal databases, office supplies, court reporters, and outside counsel. The question of how much work is done on water and sewer by legal services was raised, leading to an agreement to seek clarification from the town manager. The Legal budget was approved for $504,680.

Planning Department Budget

The Planning Department budget illustrates an increase in salaries and training costs. The Office Manager position’s salary increase was discussed and attributed to market rates. The training has been increased to ensure the department keeps up with the advanced questions from Town Meeting members. Technology costs include economic development software for tracking vacancies. After discussion, the budget was approved for $655,539.

Redevelopment Board Budget

The Redevelopment Board, a sub-department within Planning, saw a modest $2,000 increase for advertising and printing. The board is directed by the Planning director, and the budget was approved quickly for $12,800.

Lastly, the rest of the budgets, including the town manager’s, libraries, and several Health and Human Services related budgets, have yet to be discussed and will be addressed in subsequent meetings.



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