LINCOLN – It’s budget season in Lincoln, with town and school leaders working to prepare their proposals for next year’s spending package.

It will be the first town budget cycle for Phil Gould as Lincoln’s town administrator. He’s tasked with submitting a budget proposal to the Budget Board for review, before the budget is put before the taxpayers for a vote at the Financial Town Meeting in May.

School Department leaders are still working on the 2021-22 budget, but School Business Administrator John McNamee said he’s hoping it’s out to the School Committee at some point this week.

Certain school improvements will be funded under federal COVID relief packages, such as HVAC improvements and new elementary furniture. Any leftover funds would be used for capital renovations at the elementary schools.

As far as next year’s budget, McNamee said they have a “laundry list” of needs they’re looking to fund. One of the wish-list items is a new concession stand at the high school.

The School Committee’s budget subcommittee is scheduled to review the budget proposal beginning on Jan. 20, with additional meetings on Jan. 24 and Jan. 27 if needed. Finally, there will be a special School Committee meeting on Jan. 31, when the committee is expected to approve the package and submit it to the town.

School and town officials will then meet on Feb. 1, the day the budget is due.

Gould can make changes to the school proposal before the complete town budget is passed to the Budget Board.

Meanwhile, school leaders are considering the idea of a revolving fund for school capital projects, taking the burden off taxpayers in the annual budget.

School Committee member Mario Carreño noted that Lincoln is facing more than $20 million in capital needs, and that “the only way to address those needs without local dollars is a constant revolving fund.”

As a project is completed, Lincoln would use any reimbursement money from that project to invest in another capital project, and so on.

Carreno used the proposed physical education center as an example. When the town completes construction on the $8.3 million center, they’re eligible for more than $4.1 million in reimbursement.

“The notion of a revolving fund allows us to take that and to invest it into another project,” he said, adding that it would also allow for better planning and pricing. “The biggest takeaway is that after this initial investment and perhaps the sale of an asset, we would be fixing our schools without a cent of taxpayer money.”

The town has two potential assets that could be sold: the former Fairlawn Elementary School, which is being leased long-term by Blackstone Valley Prep, and the former Lincoln Memorial School/Lincoln Schools administrative office building on Lonsdale Avenue.

Carreno said there may be additional reimbursement opportunities on the horizon.

“The goal, really, is to release the taxpayers from being burdened in a capital situation,” said Supt. Larry Filippelli.

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