PITTSFIELD, Maine — The Pittsfield Town Council is on a course to approve a 2011 municipal budget that is $62 lower than spending in the current year.
Town Manager Kathryn Ruth credited hard work by the town’s 44 employees — many of whom are performing duties that were done by multiple people as recently as 10 years ago — for making it possible.
The slight spending decrease, along with a 0.1 percent increase in projected revenues, means that the municipal services budget will not require an increase in property taxes. However, three major elements of the budget — SAD 53’s spending plan for schools, the Somerset County budget and the town’s overall valuation — won’t be known until next spring. That means data about what the town’s property tax rate might be next year are unavailable.
Last year, the town decreased municipal spending by about $57,000, but Ruth said another decrease like that is not possible without severely cutting into services offered by the town.
“It is no longer feasible to try to cut all of the town departmental budgets as it is now a challenge to operate many of the services provided,” Ruth wrote in a recent memo to town councilors.
The municipal operating and capital budget for 2011 is proposed at $2,829,412. Though many costs increased, Ruth said negotiating lower or new contracts with outside vendors in a range of areas made it possible for spending to remain stagnant.
Ruth said some areas of revenues, such as the excise tax, are showing signs of improvement while others, such as state revenue sharing, have not. State revenue sharing in 2011 is projected to be about $328,000, a decrease of about $46,000 from the current year.
Though the theme of this budget is belt-tightening, Ruth said some $810,000 in capital projects would be accomplished in 2011 with funds from the capital budget, loans, reserve funds and grants. Among the projects on the schedule are parking lot repaving and road reconstruction, upgrades at the town’s transfer station, the purchase of several pieces of equipment and projects at the Pittsfield Municipal Airport. There is also $10,000 set aside for repairs to the ailing Pittsfield Historical Society building.
A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21 in the Town Council chamber in the town hall. Ruth said copies of the budget are available for residents to see at the town office.