WEST SPRINGFIELD — Councilors are looking at Mayor William Reichelt’s proposal of a $128.8 million budget for fiscal year 2025.

The proposal, a 7.24% increase from the current budget, would result in an increase of 6.18% in taxes on existing properties.

Town Accountant Sharon Wilcox, said the budget is “a level-service budget, not level-funded.” She noted that unfilled positions in mayor’s and finance offices have been left out of the budget, and no new programs have been added in non-school departments.

Nonetheless, spending on schools is up 9.62% from FY24, to just under $5 million; non-school departments are up 3.52%, to $35.3 million; and employee benefits costs are up 10.15%, to $26.1 million. Wilcox pointed to large increases in the obligatory contribution to the town’s health care trust fund, which was fully depleted in FY23, as well as the same inflation that all households and businesses are experiencing.

“Basically, what you’re seeing at home, we’re seeing here, too,” she said. “The costs are going up.”

In FY25, the town will see some increased revenues from sources other than the property tax. West Springfield’s share of Chapter 70, state aid to schools, will rise 9%. The local hotel rooms tax that the Town Council voted to raise from 4% to 6% will result in receipts to the town increasing from $775,000 to $1.3 million, and with two cannabis retailers now operating in town, a marijuana excise tax is expected to bring in $100,000.

Comments from the public focused on the School Department portion of the budget, which was decided by the School Committee and the mayor earlier in the spring. Two parents of children in a program for children with autism asked councilors to reverse the plans to cut the program. The Town Council can only vote a bottom-line figure for the schools; it is up to the School Committee and school administrators to decide what particular programs are funded.

Adrienne Latham, a parent who has spoken at town and school budget hearings several times about the need for more spending on education, said “this town should be embarrassed” at the proposed budget.

Part of the growth in the school budget is recently negotiated salary increases, Wilcox said. Another part is positions formerly funded by ESSER — a coronavirus relief package authorized by Congress in 2021 — being included in the budget for the first time, as the federal funding expires.

Former Town Councilor George Kelly, on the other hand, said the town needs less spending, not more.

“I urge you to level-fund this budget right now,” he said. “A lot of businesses in this town are on the ropes. … A lot of homeowners, especially those disabled vets, [and] elderly, are just hanging on the ropes. You can’t spend them out of existence. I really hope you think really hard before you put some of these increases in.”

The Town Council is expected to debate the budget at its meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, June 3, in the Justin Morgan Auditorium on the second floor of Town Hall, 26 Central St., West Springfield.