Pittsfield municipal budget falls for 3rd straight year

Posted Dec. 23, 2010, at 12:38 a.m.

PITTSFIELD, Maine — The Town Council on Tuesday gave final enactment to the town’s 2011 budget, which includes an overall decrease in the cost of municipal services for the third consecutive year.

Town Manager Kathryn Ruth said the municipal budget, which does not include spending for schools or Somerset County, is $62 less than last year. Because of revenue lines that are improving slightly, the municipal side of the budget will require approximately $3,020 less in property tax collections.

“We were all very pleased with the way things turned out,” said Ruth. “The fact that it came in at about the same as last year was excellent.”

A few changes were made from earlier drafts of the budget. When the town’s contribution to employee health insurance came in lower than expected, the council decided to spend the money on a few items it had been seeking funding for. One of those initiatives was a 2 percent cost-of-living increase in the salaries of all full- and part-time municipal employees. Pittsfield employees haven’t received a raise in two years, said Ruth.

That left about $1,800, which the council put in an economic development budget for professional printing of marketing materials. Having just finished a six-lot expansion of the Pittsfield Industrial Park, the town is planning an aggressive push to fill them beginning next month.

The budget includes about $810,000 in capital projects in 2011, though all but $190,000 worth of them will be paid for by grants and reserve funds. The capital budget includes $20,000 for improvements in municipal parking lots; $50,000 for highway reconstruction; $20,000 for recycling equipment; $20,000 for a waste trans-porter; $5,000 for the library’s capital fund; $20,000 for equipment for the highway department; $35,000 toward the purchase of a bulldozer; $15,000 for fire department equipment; $5,000 for the fire station reserve fund; $123,000 for highway paving; $17,000 for sidewalks; $300,000 for safety projects at the airport; $170,000 for airport hangar construction and $10,000 for work at the historical society building.

More than half of the capital projects will be paid for by grants, with about $123,000 coming from loans and $24,000 from reserve accounts.

The new capital and municipal budget, which has a bottom line of $2,829,412, goes into effect Jan. 1. Pittsfield’s share of the school and county budgets won’t be known for a few more months.

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