Mansfield Finance Committee chair Walter Wilks and vice chair Steve Schoonveld met with selectmen on Wednesday to discuss the progression of Mansfield’s budget situation over the next decade.
“We pretty much need 5 percent revenue growth or state funds… to balance the budget for next year without using free cash or raising taxes,” Wilks said.
The main remedy they suggested was to raise revenue not through residential development but through the industrial park, the train station and downtown.
“We should figure out ways to increase the tax base to increase businesses in the town,” Wilks said.
The pair suggested that plans to rezone the industrial park to allow for larger buildings should start right away, so that the work could begin sooner rather than later.
“We’re lagging, if we don’t start pulling things together now… we’re going to be another year behind in getting new taxes from new businesses in the industrial park,” Wilks said. “It would behoove you to try to do this to increase revenue for the town.”
Schoonveld said, while these improvements would be necessary, it wouldn’t be instant and projected revenue increases would be shaky, at best.
“We’re speculating without analyzing,” he said. “Is that investment of 100k turn into $2 [million] or $3 million in five years, or is it going to be ten?”
Schoonveld added that the town has not had a 5 percent increase in revenue in the past five years, and there’s only been three times in the last decade where such an increase occurred.
He said this is linked with the national economy, and if Mansfield follows suit, the outcome wouldn’t be good for the town.
“[U.S. gross domestic product increase] is predictably 1.5 percent growth in the economy,” he said. If growth in Mansfield is 1.5 percent, then we’re upside seven figures.”