When residents of St. George gather for town meeting on Tuesday, March 9, they will be looking at a budget that is down between 1.35 and 2.15 percent from the one they approved last year.

Those numbers reflect the variation between the budget of $2,308,065.16 approved by selectmen — down $31,694.59 from 2009 — and the budget of $2,289,540.01 recommended by the budget committee — $50,219.74 lower than last year. If voters approve either of the proposals, the amount needed from property taxes to support the operations of the town, called the net budget, will be $1,249,565.16 for the Select Board budget or $1,231,040.01 for the budget committee recommendation.

The difference between the two recommendations is $18,525.15 and includes the following, according to Town Manager John Falla:

  • The budget committee recommends that there be no increase in town employee wages, while the Select Board recommends a 3 percent raise.
  • The budget committee does not recommend $5,000 for an outdoor sign at the town office, called for in the Select Board budget.
  • The budget committee has added $1,000 to the budget for the agency Broadreach, formerly known as Midcoast Children’s Services.

Only $3,000 was requested for certified assessors, reducing that line by close to $9,000, but abatements — reductions in real estate taxes usually due to an error or omission — are up by $10,000 in all recommended budgets. Falla said the town’s current revaluation project is reducing the need to fund a typical annual review of property assessments.

The budget for roads and bridges is down $62,650 because asphalt prices are expected to be lower than what was budgeted in 2009.

Increased need among residents of St. George has led to a doubling of the budgeted amount for general assistance, from $10,000 to a 2010 figure of $20,000. The lines for social services have more than doubled to $12,718. Falla said this is to provide more contributions to agencies.

Finally, both versions of the budget call for a 50 percent reduction in the unclassified account. This reflects the removal of $10,000 for fireworks for St. George Days. While this item was also not in the budget presented to voters last year, it was replaced at town meeting.

Fireworks were first put into the budget for the St. George bicentennial in 2003, and Falla said there was protest when they did not appear in the 2004 budget. The item appeared again in 2005, he said, but has been left out of the budget ever since. He said voters have added the $10,000 item for fireworks at town meeting in each year since then.

Voting in St. George for candidates for positions on the Select Board and Regional School Unit 13 board will be Monday, March 8 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Town meeting will be held Tuesday, March 9 at 7 p.m. Voting and the town meeting will both be in the Fire Station Meeting Room in Tenants Harbor.

For more information, contact the St. George Town Office at townmgr@stgeorgemaine.com or 372-6363.