2006-03-16 / Front Page

Combined budgets total $19 million

By Dotti Farrington

The proposed town government and school budgets, aired Tuesday, total $19,019,138 which is $1,370,970 or 7.76 percent more than the current budget. The town's portion is 40.8 percent of the total, and the school budget is 59.2 percent of the total.

If approved by voters as is, the new tax rate would be $9.58 per $1,000 of property assessment, or 1 cent less than 5.5 percent maximum rate increase allowed under state law. The current rate is $9.09 per $1,000 of assessment.

As an example, an owner of property assessed at $400,000 would pay $3,636 in taxes this year. For the new budget as proposed, the owner of the same property would pay $3,832 in taxes next year, which is $196 more than is currently paid.

Town Administrator Bruce Keiser proposed that the town's portion of the annual budget be $7,764,340. That amount is $751,538 or 9.33 percent more than this year. The councilors heard Keiser's proposals for the town this week, and will hear the school spending plan Tuesday, March 21, at 6 p.m. The final budget plan will be presented to voters at the annual finanancial meeting on June 5.

Keiser's spending plan includes continuation of all existing town services, with increases involving:

+ 3.75 percent salary adjustments for police.

+ 3.5 percent increases for all other union workers and for department heads.

+ Phasing in the second part of the new emergency services incentives at an added cost of $83,174 offset by more than that amount in revenue.

+ $15,000 for the new municipal court, offset by a similar amount of revenue from fines.

+ Phasing in $519,573 in recommended improvements to the police, library, and Community Center buildings.

+ Capital spending of $892,110 for most items and $550,000 under debt service for heavy equipment - two dump trucks, a street sweeper and a backhoe - to be leased for five years at a gross cost of $616,875 for ownership.

+ Staff re-organization for additions for planning, recreation, and engineering departments.

+ $10,800 stipend for the ambulance commander that was erroneously left out of the current budget, with no provision to compensate the post for the amount intended this year.

+ Adding annual debt service of $68,750 to cover the new town hall if approved for $2.75 million at the June 5 financial meeting.

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