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Camden municipal budget shows 5 percent hike

Posted April 16, 2014, at 11:30 a.m.

CAMDEN, Maine — The Select Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to send a $6,748,939 municipal budget to voters, a spending package that is up 5 percent.

Board members acknowledged that the 2014-2015 budget would increase property taxes. They said it will be up to residents to discuss what level of services they want.

Town Manager Patricia Finnigan said the budget retains the current level of municipal services.

Finnigan said the $320,000 increase in spending will raise property taxes by about 30 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. This would translate to $60 for a home assessed at $200,000. This increase does not include any tax hikes resulting from the Five-Town Community School District or School Administrative District 28 budgets.

Town meeting will be in June and the school budgets will be voted on by referendums in June.

Board member Donald White Jr. said he was concerned with any increase.

“For some of the Camden residents, any tax increase is not going to be be met with smiling faces. But more importantly, there are many people who do not have the pocketbook to withstand it,” White said.

Board member John French Jr. asked whether the town could use more of its surplus to reduce the amount of new taxes to be assessed. The budget calls for using $150,000 in surplus. French said the town has a surplus of about $3 million and could use some of it to cushion the increase.

“There are lot of people on fixed income who are just getting by,” French said.

Board member Leonard Lookner said he did not think it was wise to spend down the surplus. He said if the town needed to use more surplus for daily operations it was living beyond its means.

One major increase in the budget is for the first year of repaying borrowing for the improvements to the Snow Bowl. The first year payment is about $100,000. Voters gave overwhelming approval in November to borrowing up to $2 million for the Ragged Mountain project.

Another increase in the budget was an additional $50,000 for road work. The budget committee recommended the additional spending.

The police budget is proposed at $999,925, up about 3 percent. The public works budget is proposed at $908,550, up nearly 4 percent. The general government administration budget is proposed at $711,000, up less than 3 percent.

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