HOULTON, Maine — With the economy in flux and the price of most things increasing, Town Manager Doug Hazlett acknowledged this week that it would likely be another year of belt-tightening for town officials.
Hazlett said town officials, councilors and members of the board of budget review already have met to talk about the budget situation for the new year and “get everyone on the same page.”
“The good news is that we are seeing good things on the revenue front and we have a bond debt that is leaving us,” he said.
“But we also have old needs that haven’t gone away. We still need more money for road repair and to fix sidewalks and to do other projects that we have put on the back burner.”
Hazlett said the town is still responsible for its share of the reconstruction of a section of Route 2A known as Bangor Street. Crews began repairing the road in the spring after the project was delayed for about eight years. The project is expected to continue for another year.
Over the past few years, the town has delayed the completion of some capital projects in favor of a policy of spending now to save the town money in the future. Town officials have bought new furnaces to replace less-efficient units in town buildings. At the same time, the town has seen an increase in the price of fuel for its buildings and vehicles, as well as spikes in the cost of road salt and asphalt.
Hazlett forecast it will be a difficult few months for those who will begin piecing together the budget.
“If the goal is to keep taxes the same, we are really going to have to tighten our belts,” he said.