Glenburn voters OK municipal, school budgets that aim to hold tax rate

Posted June 13, 2013, at 7:37 p.m.

GLENBURN, Maine — Despite some lingering financial uncertainties, voters adopted municipal and school budgets for the fiscal year ahead during the annual town meeting Wednesday night.

Among the unknowns are how much the town ultimately will receive in state revenues, and how much it actually will cost to educate Glenburn students once Glenburn’s withdrawal from RSU 26 takes effect, Town Manager Michael Crooker said Thursday.

Based on their best projections, town councilors and transitional school committee members presented budget plans, he said. Their goal was to keep the local tax rate, which now stands at $19.15 per $1,000 in property valuation, from increasing.

At the outset of the town meeting, there was a proposed $8.46 million education budget for the town’s first post-RSU 26-withdrawal school year as well as a $2.3 million budget for municipal operations in 2013-14, Crooker said.

The proposed education budget originally called for a local allocation of $2,362,037 and $1,265,170 in additional local funds, a decrease of $224,196 from this year, according to school budget documents posted on the RSU 26 website.

During the meeting, however, councilors and school officials recommended — and voters approved — the shift of $113,000 from the school budget withdrawal contingency account to the town as a way to help stabilize the tax rate, Crooker said.

The shift required amendments to dollar amounts listed in four town meeting and school budget meeting warrant articles, Crooker said.

On Thursday, Crooker said although both budgets passed, it was not yet clear if the local property tax rate will stay the same because of uncertainty over how much the town will receive in state revenue under Gov. Paul LePage’s biennial budget plan that calls for the suspension or reduction of several state programs, including state revenue sharing.

Crooker said the municipal budget is based, among other things, on a projection that Glenburn will receive about $259,000 in state revenue sharing, or 25 percent less than it received this year.

As of Thursday, however, state lawmakers were still embroiled in budget debates.

Also during the annual town meeting, voters approved a joint Community Development Block Grant housing assistance program with the town of Hermon, and granted permission to borrow up to $3 million for road and street improvements.

Residents also approved a series of shoreland zoning amendments. Crooker said the amendments were largely housekeeping in nature and will lead to fewer restrictions in areas no longer classified as wetlands.

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