June 25, 2018
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St. Albans selectmen recommend ‘bare-bones’ budget

By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff

ST. ALBANS — Selectmen have recommended what Town Manager Rhonda Stark called a “bare-bones” budget, though the proposal includes incremental contributions toward future projects that are too expensive to do all at once.

The 2011 municipal budget, approved unanimously by selectmen and under review by the Budget Committee, is proposed to be $833,503, which is about $27,000 higher than the current year. The impact on taxpayers in St. Albans next year won’t be known until totals for public schools, the county budget and the town’s share of expenses for a regional industrial park are tallied.

“Unfortunately, we have no control over the school and county budgets and the town is always the entity that cuts back and loses out,” wrote Stark in a recent memo to the Budget Committee. Last year’s municipal budget proposal had a drop of about $78,000 from the previous year.

Some of the larger increases in the current proposal include $4,000 in salaries, $5,000 in office equipment including a new photocopier, $2,000 for supplies and equipment at the fire department, $10,500 for supplies and equipment for public works and $8,800 for insurance.

Selectmen also are requesting a total of $14,000 to paint the historic town hall and refinish the auditorium floor inside. The town has been renovating the building little by little for several years.

Selectmen also recommended setting aside $5,000 toward improvements at the community playground, which could be built as early as next summer, and $1,000 toward the town’s bicentennial celebration in 2013.

Using road funds from the state, the town will spend $60,000 for improvements to two dirt roads, including 2,600 feet of Ballard Road and 600 feet of Magoon Road. Stark said the town is scheduled to pay off a previous roads bond in 2012 and that she hopes the town will borrow more at that point to expand paving on some of the outlying roads.

“We have a lot of dirt roads in St. Albans,” she said. “It’s a never-ending project.”

On the revenue side, Stark said the town has budgeted for continued decreases in state revenue sharing and excise taxes, though she said selectmen are keen to know how the next biennial state budget — which will be proposed by Gov.-elect Paul LePage and considered by the Legislature in the coming months — will affect municipal revenues.

The next Budget Committee meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 11, in the town office. Voters will decide on the overall budget package at the March 5 town meeting.

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