Houlton council passes $9 million budget

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff
Posted Jan. 25, 2011, at 10:12 p.m.

HOULTON, Maine — Town councilors on Monday evening unanimously passed the proposed $9 million budget during a public hearing at the town office.

Besides cutting $250 from the cemetery account, councilors made no additional changes to the budget, Town Clerk Cathy O’Leary said Tuesday.

Town Manager Doug Hazlett presented a draft of the fiscal forecast to the board of budget review in December. The board was charged with looking at the budget and making recommendations, which then were passed on to the council.

The board held a number of meetings but made few changes to the proposed budget, which is down slightly over the current year.

Before the public hearing, councilors also did not make many changes to the draft approved by the review board.

While the review board had increased funding for the Aroostook County Historical and Art Museum from $2,500 to $3,000, the council cut it back to $2,500.

That was the amount Hazlett suggested in the initial budget proposal and the amount the museum had received in recent years. The board of budget review chose to increase the funding to $3,000, even though the museum did not ask for an increase. Since museum officials didn’t ask for the increase, councilors decided before the public hearing to restore the funding to the original $2,500 proposed by Hazlett.

The bulk of the budget, $1.9 million, will go to SAD 29 as the town’s share of funding for education. Houlton also owes $291,327 for its share of the Aroostook County tax. The town will put $218,896 into its roads account this year.

Councilors noted that most departments were able to maintain or reduce their budgets in order to keep the overall municipal budget as low as possible.

The town also realized cost savings in other areas.

Several years ago, the town created several tax increment financing districts in the municipality. Tagged as an economic development device, the tax increment financing program, or TIF, aims to enhance and entice investment in specific portions of town.

The TIF policies allow the town to capture tax revenue from investments in one TIF district in the municipality and use it to offset expenses in another. The town saw $145,200 in TIF revenues this year.

The town also eliminated a part-time position in the assessor’s office and saw a $23,015 reduction in insurance premiums.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/01/25/news/houlton-council-passes-9-million-budget/ printed on September 20, 2014