Draft budget shows Houlton facing revenue shortfall

Posted Nov. 14, 2012, at 3:58 p.m.

HOULTON, Maine — During a Town Council meeting on Tuesday evening, Town Manager Eugene Conlogue let the group know that the budget he prepared wasn’t pretty.

The town has lost revenue from multiple sources, is dealing with skyrocketing expenses for items such as fuel oil, and is expecting its share of the SAD 29 school budget to increase.

The proposed budget is $9.7 million. The previous budget was $9.1 million. The proposed budget includes a number of capital projects such as upgrading the area tennis courts and installing computer upgrades. During the meeting, Conologue talked about the possibility of issuing a bond to help the town finance the work.

Conlogue told councilors during the hourlong meeting that he has only been working for the town for a little over a month, and that he made the budget a priority.

Conlogue said he expected ambulance revenues to be down $100,000 over last year, and state revenue sharing would be down $50,000. He added that he had scaled back the town’s Tax Increment Finance accounts. Tagged as an economic development device, TIF aims to enhance and entice investment in a specific portion of a town. Establishment of TIF zones helps stimulate economic development, guard or create jobs and encourage investment to bolster business growth. The proceeds from such activity can be used for development projects.

An ATV bridge that sees a lot of traffic in the summer must be fixed, said Conlogue, as it washed out.

At this point, the town has to wait for an estimate from SAD 29 on what they will have to contribute to education. Several councilors expressed fear that school costs would jack the municipal budget up even further.

The budget then will be sent to the board of budget review so that panel can accept or reduce it. The budget then will be voted on by the council.

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