Burlington is staring down a possible hole in its 2023 budget of slightly more than $7 million. According to Mayor Miro Weinberger, the reasons include inflation, pandemic revenue shortfalls and recent municipal investments.

The mayor is proposing a three-pronged approach to filling the hole which will go to voters in a little more than a month on Town Meeting Day. He, and one of his administration’s key appointees, went over each facet of it Thursday night with the city’s Board of Finance.

The 2023 budget plan asks for permission to raise the general fund tax rate by about a nickel per $1,000 of property value. Even if voters grant that permission on March 1, the mayor says they’d still pay less in total property taxes next year than this year. The Burlington School District is asking for a significant enough reduction of the school tax to more than offset a slightly higher general fund tax rate.

“We had put in just level funding until I got the ballot question (from school district personnel),” Burlington chief administrative officer Katherine Schad said. “What I put in was the language — what exactly they had, which was a 7% reduction.”

“We’ll forward the full item, but it does conclude, ‘spending at this level could produce a property tax rate decrease of 6.98% (current estimate)’,” Weinberger said.

Some of the Queen City’s other revenue streams besides property taxes are expected to go up in value next year. If they rise more than expected, there would be no general fund tax hike; the mayor said this has happened before.

“At one point, actually, we asked for an increase, and then we didn’t use it for three years,” he said. “This is raising the cap; it does not necessarily mean the full cap will be used.”

The budget plan would set aside American Rescue Plan money as a reserve in the event those revenue streams don’t recover as much as planned. It would also set aside other ARPA funds to help pay for recent investments like the expansion of the city’s Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Office.

If the general fund tax increase doesn’t pass at the ballot box, however, about $2.2 million in budget cuts will likely follow.

“The effects of that are shared by all of us, and we face it together,” Ward 6 City Councilor Karen Paul said. “We figure it out together, and no one area of the city or departments, feel the pain more than any other.”

This coming Monday is the deadline for approving the official language of Town Meeting Day ballot items. The City Council will work on the verbiage for all three facets of the budget plan that night.