2006-05-18 / Front Page

Financial meeting June 5

Special 2006-2007 budget section inside
By Dotti Farrington

The Town Council has set the agenda for the annual financial town meeting slated for Monday, June 5, at 7 p.m. at the Lawn Avenue School.

Registered voters will be asked to approve a $18,987,026 spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1 and adopt seven resolutions. The council approved budget provides $11,221,858 for schools and $7,765,168 for town government. One of the resolutions asks voters to approve up to $3 million in bonding for a new town hall. An insert in today's edition of the Jamestown Press contains the complete town and school spending packages and the resolutions that voters will be asked to approve.

In preparation for the financial town meeting, the council will provide a special presentation Monday, May 22, at 7 p.m. at the library about the new town hall plans that are expected to cost $1 million more than originally estimated. The increased costs reflect two items - prevailing wages used for base-cost estimates and costs of a full, finished basement. Original estimates from late last year were for a partial, unfinished basement and base costs of $200 per square foot. Town officials are now recommending a full basement providing for emergency management needs and storage. The latest cost estimates are $265 per square foot.

Proposed budget

The 2006-2007 budget figures reflect an increase of 4.4 percent for a tax rate of $9.49 per thousand dollars of property valuation as compared to $9.09 for the current fiscal year that ends June 30. That rate reflects an increase of $152 for the owner of a medianvalued home of $380,000 on the island.

Changing ratio A few weeks ago, Council

President David Long reported what he called a "remarkable development" in taxpayer spending. The proposed budget is his seventh as a multi-term council member.

Every year in the past that he has served, Long said, the total budget represented about onethird of the money for the town and about two-thirds for schools. "This year, the split is 41 percent for the town and 59 percent for the schools. This is a good thing," he noted.

Bonding practice

Another new feature in the proposed budget is the principle of bonding for major equipment and repair needs. That bonding approach was adopted during the council's budget sessions in March. Town Administrator Bruce Keiser proposed bonding for major equipment purchases, with $550,000 earmarked for the public works department next year. Bonded for five years, that spending would cost about $66,000 in interest but that could be offset by at least that amount in savings on repairs to very old vehicles, according to Keiser.

As an extension of that principle, Keiser and the council decided to reduce funds for fire department apparatus this year, with the promise of such bonding to finance fire department needs in the 2007-08 budget year.

The capital plan for next year will include $100,000 as the town share with a state matching grant for a new salt-storage structure at its existing location at the Taylor Point wastewater treatment plant.

Budget features

Among features of the council budget are a 3.75 percent salary adjustments for police and 3.5 percent increases for all other union employees and department heads. Also new is the phasing in of the second part of the new emergency medical services incentives at an added cost of $83,174 that is offset by more than that amount in revenue.

In addition, there is a phase in of $519,573 in recommended improvements to the police, library, and Community Center buildings and capital spending for $550,000 under debt service for heavy equipment, which includes two dump trucks, a street sweeper and a backhoe, to be leased for five years at a gross cost of $616,875 for ownership.


Three resolutions to be adopted are for the town hall, exemptions for volunteer firefighters and emergency medical services volunteers, and a new formula for tax relief for totally disabled people being provided in response to requests for tax relief for people who are deaf.

Four resolutions are annual "housekeeping" items: authorizing the sewer-line frontage tax rate, continuing at 68 cents a linear foot; the borrowing of up to $1 million in anticipation of taxes; the use of back tax collections assigned to the general fund for current costs; and setting the new tax rate.

Last year, a total of 265 of some 4,602 eligible voters - less than one percent - turned out for the annual financial town meeting when all resolutions were approved as presented by unanimous or nearly unanimous voice votes. The session took 20 minutes to complete voter registration and 35 minutes for voting.

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