Rockport’s proposed municipal budget for fiscal year 2012-13 continues a trend of keeping expenditures well below the cap on increases imposed by LD 1, the state law signed by Gov. John Baldacci in 2005 that was designed to reduce Mainers’ property tax burden.

Because Rockport’s budgets over the last five years or more have averaged more than 10 percent below the allowable level of growth in the amount to be raised from property taxes, the projected increase of 3.04 percent in Town Manager Robert Peabody’s proposal is well within the LD1 limit. Rockport’s total proposed expenditure for the coming fiscal year is $4,372,197. The net municipal budget to be raised from property tax is $2,637,713. Projected revenues from sources other than taxation total $1,734,484.

“The past three budgets have reflected the atmosphere of financial uncertainty permeating Maine and the country,” wrote Peabody in the letter that accompanies his budget proposal. One result of reduced private spending is that fewer new motor vehicles are being purchased and registered. That has led to a reduction in revenue from excise tax, one of the largest sources of non-property tax income for the town.

Peabody’s proposed net commitment of $2,637,713 is an increase of $77,706 compared to last year. The proposed budget is $354,639 lower than the LD 1 tax cap limit.

The budget includes the temporary position of assistant public works director, filled this month and funded in keeping with the Select Board’s goal of having an orderly transition when current Public Works Director Steve Beveridge retires. In another change to personnel lines, the position of assistant town clerk would be funded at a lower level than in last year’s budget.

Saying Rockport does not compensate with either longevity or step adjustments, Peabody included a cost of living adjustment of 3.4 percent for town employees. He said the increase was based on the Consumer Price Index for all urban wage earners and clerical workers.

Among the capital items included is a new police cruiser, at $24,325. The Public Works Department lines include $276,661 for road and sidewalk related projects. This is a $16,796 increase over last year. That department’s budget also includes $32,900, the first lease payment for one 2013 F-550 one-ton truck. Peabody has also included the historic funding level of $30,000 for the Fire Department Capital Budget Fire Department Vehicle Reserve.

Funding for the demolition of RES East is included as is offsetting revenue for the project from the Commercial Street Tax Increment Financing Development Program. The budget also includes costs for the development of a Harbor Walk, at $7,800, and updates to the Rockport Opera House, at $30,600. Both of these items have some offsetting revenue.

Long-term payments in the 2012-13 budget total $96,297 for principal and interest, which includes the Salt Shed/Fuel Tank bond. There is a Tax Increment Financing payment of $51,991.

On the revenue side Peabody has increased expected excise tax revenue by $20,000. Funds from the state’s Urban-Rural Initiative Program are slated to increase slightly to $56,848, although Peabody said the exact amount would not be available until the Legislature finalizes the state budget.

“There is little information from which to glean an accurate state revenue sharing projection,” wrote Peabody. “The revenue amount is based [on] historic trend and best available information.”

Peabody proposed using $110,000 from the undesignated fund balance, $40,000 less than is allowed by town policy.

Peabody’s proposed fiscal year 2012-13 budget can be found at the town’s website at town.rockport.me.us.

Polls for a statewide primary and municipal balloting will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12 at the Rockport Town Office. Rockport’s annual town meeting is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, June 13 at 7 p.m. at the Rockport Opera House.

The VillageSoup Gazette Reporter Shlomit Auciello can be reached at 207-236-8511 or by email at sauciello@villagesoup.com.