St. George town budget down 2 percent

By Juliette Laaka | Feb 28, 2014

St.George — The $1.65 million municipal budget prepared by Town Manager John Falla shows a 2 percent decrease from last year mainly due to a slight uptick in anticipated revenue.

The 2014-2015 proposal is down by $32,000 from the 2012-2013 budget and the total revenue from costs associated with vehicle excise tax and mooring fees, is $804,100.

The gross town budget is $2.4 million before revenues are taken from the figure.

Taking school, county and town costs into consideration, a resident owning a $200,000 property would see a $20 increase in their tax bill. School appropriation is estimated to increase 3.8 percent, at $4.3 million, which is 64 percent of the total budget. The county tax is down by a little more than 1 percent, totaling $744,601.

In the budget message, Falla said the town is facing its final payment on its bond debt in November, resulting in the removal of $150,000 a year in bond debt expense.

Falla also spoke of the town withdrawing from Regional School Unit 13 and creating its own municipal school unit, citing financial analyses that show the affect on the budget is likely to be minimal.

"From an operational standpoint of the school's administrative offices, the sharing of services with the town seem like a workable solution that will save some money," he said.

The town has also been considering closing the Port Clyde fire station, due to the lack of volunteers to staff the station. Fire Chief Tim Polky said the issue will be addressed at the May town meeting. Polky said the fire trucks housed at the station would either be stored there, or more likely, one would be sold if the station closed. Falla said the town is working with consultants to determine how to provide the needed fire protection for the best price.

Department breakdowns

  • All full-time town office and transfer station employees would receive 2 percent increase in pay. Falla will receive a 3 percent increase in compensation, but went without a raise in the last budget session, adding to the $13,708 increase in the town office budget.
  • The Public Works Solid Waste Department is seeking $464,853, down 11 percent.
  • The Planning Department is set to receive $119,000, up 32 percent from last year, due to an increase in board member pay from $10 to $20 a meeting, and the Conservation Commission's request of $25,000 to assist in its purchase of High Island.
  • The Public Safety Department is set to receive $354,948, 6 percent more than last year.
  • The select board and assessors have $66,952 apportioned to them, up by .3 percent from last year.
  • Public works roads and bridges would receive $486,225, with no significant change from last year.
  • General assistance has been cut in half from last year, totaling $2,500.
  • Social and Community services cost is down 7 percent, totaling $142,316.
  • Parks and Recreation is down 5 percent, totaling $95,474.
  • The harbors budget is down 17 percent, totaling $94,420.
  • The unclassified fund is decreased to half because of no further funding needed for the withdrawal committee or summer math program. A new line item has been added to this account for expenses associated with the former library building on Main Street.

Falla said it is uncertain what the town will receive from the state in revenue sharing,  but predicting more cuts will occur. Falla said his conservative guess is the town will receive about $25,000, from the state, down from $78,000 anticipated last year.

"Overall this year is somewhat status quo, with future years holding a big question mark," he said.

The budget will begin its review of the spending package Monday, March 10 and selectmen are expected to hear the committee's recommendations at is Monday, March 24 meeting. Town meeting is Tuesday, May 13.

Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at jlaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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Juliette Laaka
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594-4401 ext. 118
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Juliette primarily covers the cops and courts beat for The Courier-Gazette.

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