LINCOLN, Maine — Looking to save about $100,000 and prevent a slight tax increase, town leaders might prevent contractors from dumping at the town transfer station, Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said Thursday.
If the Town Council leaves unchanged Goodwin’s proposed $6.85 million 2010-11 municipal and school budget, taxpayers would face a mill rate increase from 20.6 mills to 21.0 mills. Residents owning $100,000 worth of property would pay $2,100 in taxes annually starting July 1, which begins the fiscal year, instead of $2,060.
Under Goodwin’s proposal, the town’s net expenses would increase $202,860 over this year’s budget — mostly due, she said, to a $181,600 decrease in state aid and other revenue and a county tax increase of $35,205.
The state aid reduction, Goodwin said, nullified both the $10,177 savings from RSU 67’s reduced school tax on the town, from $3.74 million now to $3.73 million proposed for next year, and several years of municipal budget cuts.
“If you want to decrease taxes, you have to decrease services. You cannot keep decreasing taxes without sooner or later affecting the services that you get,” Goodwin said Thursday.
The town’s fiscal troubles make cutting the hauling of construction debris from the transfer station to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington a top option. The town charges contractors a $100 fee for debris from jobs of all sizes left at the station. It typically hauls debris to PERC four or five times a week, Goodwin said. Hauling only residential debris would reduce Orrington trips to one to three a week.
“It’s a huge savings,” Goodwin said, “and we have to think of all the taxpayers.”
To prevent a municipal budget increase, Goodwin and the town budget committee propose eliminating $61,000 in set-asides for new equipment purchases or new equipment requests, including pickup trucks for the Recreation and Public Works departments and $20,000 in firefighting equipment.
Goodwin also cut the capital improvements budget by $107,377 from he $755,115 allocated this year to $647,738 proposed. Previous elimination of set-asides, or money banked over several years in anticipation of large equipment purchases, led to Goodwin’s proposing that the town pay $84,936 in debt service next year compared with $61,500 this year, she said.
Almost all of that debt comes from town residents’ voting 943-743 in November to approve appropriating as much as $225,000 to buy a used ladder truck. The truck cost about $176,000.
“When you don’t set aside money for purchases, you have to take on more debt on credit,” Goodwin said.
The council will discuss Goodwin’s proposed budget at the town office in a workshop at 6 p.m. June 7, a public hearing on June 14 and a final meeting on June 21. The hearing and meeting start at 7 p.m.
Lincoln voters, meanwhile, will decide whether to approve RSU 67’s proposed $12.2 million 2010-11 budget during a district town meeting at Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln on June 1 and a validation vote on June 8.