HOLDEN, Maine — The bottom line of the preliminary town budget is less than last year, and if residents approve it in its current form at tonight’s annual town meeting, the mill rate is not expected to change, Town Manager John Butts said on Tuesday.
“It’s actually $15,000 less than last year,” he said of the municipal budget.
The draft municipal budget is $2,261,493 for fiscal year 2009-10, a decrease of $15,122.
While the bottom line is basically the same, a change in accounting practices has changed the economic development, public safety, public works and general government budget totals considerably, said Jim Ellis, Holden’s public safety director and fire chief.
“The council and the budget committee last year asked that the true costs of the employees be reflected” in the individual budget lines, he said.
In previous years, the total general government budget line included all employees except for administration. That line has decreased by more than $260,000 while the economic development, public safety and public works budget lines have increased.
For example, the proposed Fire Department budget is $226,249, an increase of $89,149.
“The Fire Department’s operating budget is up about $7,000, and the rest of it is all personnel,” Ellis said. “It’s a pretty good budget.”
Hourly Fire Department employees will receive a slight raise, but the wages of salaried employees have been frozen under the proposed budget, he said.
“We agreed not to take a pay raise,” Ellis said. “We understand these are hard economic times. I took a pay cut [because] I gave back my vehicle allowance.”
The draft budget includes:
· $337,835 for general government, a decrease of $260,930 from last year.
· $330,600 for administration, an increase of $57,137.
· $164,990 for economic development, a new combined budget line.
· $613,463 for public safety, an increase of $188,603.
· $655,605 for public works, an increase of $135,981.
· $159,000 for sanitation, a decrease of $7,900.
In addition to the budget, residents will be asked to:
· Approve using a portion of the town’s undesignated fund balance to keep taxes from increasing.
· Allow the Town Council to transfer and spend undesignated and reserve funds if three-fifths of the board approves the purpose.
· Accept federal and state grants.
· Accept gifts.
· Set aside $100,000 in funds for the I-395-Route 9 connector, if needed.
Tonight’s annual meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Holden Elementary School.