Proposed Camden budget increases spending by 1 percent

Posted March 06, 2012, at 7:10 p.m.
Last modified March 07, 2012, at 6:27 a.m.

CAMDEN, Maine — The budget committee will begin its review Thursday night, March 8, on the town manager’s proposed 2012-2013 budget that shows no change in services and a slight increase in spending.

Town Manager Patricia Finnigan released her proposed $6.2 million budget on March 1. The first meeting of the budget committee and Select Board was scheduled for that day but was postponed because of a snowstorm.

The $6,225,651 budget represents less than a 1 percent increase in spending from the voter-approved budget of $6,202,457. The amount of property taxes needed to pay for the municipal operations is projected to be $4,173,801, up 2 percent, or $83,039, from 2011-2012.

“As I began to prepare my first budget for Camden, there were indications that the national economy was improving, but I was very mindful that the times we are in have been difficult for many people. The mark of a solid budget is one that recognizes current realities while positioning the community for the future,” Finnigan stated in her budget message to the Select Board and budget committee.

The town manager said that while the national economy has not hit Camden as hard as many places elsewhere, the community’s overall property valuation has declined slightly from a year ago.

The budget includes 3 percent pay raises for employees.

The manager projects fuel prices will rise but pointed out that the town has undertaken several energy conservation projects to reduce fuel consumption.

The general government budget is proposed at $1,461,135, an increase of less than 3 percent or $37,835.

The police department budget is proposed at $957,300, an increase of less than 4 percent or $33,600. The department’s proposed budget calls for the same number of staff while creating a detective’s position. The town manager noted that the police chief has identified the lack of a criminal investigator as a hindrance to the department’s ability to solve certain types of crimes.

Other proposed budget amounts are:

• $856,800 for public works, up 3 percent or $28,400.

• $361,500 for streets and sidewalk work, up 10 percent or $35,000.

• $342,610 for the Fire Department, an increase of 3 percent or $10,340.

• $355,000 for the Camden Public Library, same amount as approved in 2011-2012.

• $512,373 for debt repayment, including principal and interest, up 17 percent or $76,172. This includes repayments on borrowing for a firetruck which accounts for much of the increase.

• $98,000 for capital improvements, a reduction of 70 percent from the $330,500 budgeted last year. Last year’s budget included $165,000 for improvements to Laite Beach. The proposed 2012-2013 capital budget includes $35,000 for the Molyneaux bridge, and $33,000 for a police vehicle.

The budget committee is expected to make its final recommendations on March 29 after a series of reviews during the month. The budget will eventually go to residents at the annual town meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 12, at the Camden Opera House.

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