Proposed Lincolnville budget to cost taxpayers less in 2020

By Susan Mustapich | Mar 19, 2019
Source: File photo

LINCOLNVILLE — Town officials are proposing a 2019-20 budget that will take less money from property taxpayers this year than last.

Selectmen have not yet finalized their budget recommendations, and will review the budget again at their next meeting March 25.

Municipal expenditures recommended by selectmen total $2,061,436, up $37,064, or 1.8 percent, from the 2018-19 budget.

Revenues and budget offsets recommended by selectmen total $1,107,704, up $93,080, or 9.2 percent, from the previous year.

In the past, the town used only what it had received from state revenue-sharing in the prior year as the basis for projecting state revenue for the new fiscal year, according to Town Administrator David Kinney. The town's auditors have urged it not to continue that practice, he said. For the state revenue projection in the FY 2020 budget, Kinney added the amount received in FY 2018, $100,347, and the amount projected to be received by June 30, 2019, which is $90,939, to get the $190,655 budgeted for state revenue-sharing in the 2020 budget. Kinney said this results in a realistic projection.

After revenues are subtracted from expenses, the net municipal budget to be raised through property taxes is $958,732, down 5.5 percent from 2018-19.

The most discussed budget expense is work to improve the ballfields behind Lincolnville Central School, which is a municipal and not a school responsibility. The proposed cost of $35,818 is more than a 200 percent increase over the previous year, and involves a maintenance contract, including soil preparation, fertilizing, seeding, and weed and crab grass control. The use of organic or green products costs approximately $6,000 more than conventional fertilizer and weed control. The ballfield work also includes $3,500 for general maintenance, $2,700 for rehabilitation of the "green monster," and $1,350 for dugout staining.

At the March 11 meeting, board member Jon Fishman said he would not agree to any use of the chemical weed killer Roundup on the ballfields. Board member Josh Gerritsen, who was not present at the meeting, also opposes the use of Roundup.

"We do know that this is doing real harm," Fishman said. "The entire state of New York has outlawed this on school grounds. It's something you can't ignore when the science and evidence is there, and children are involved."

Roundup is typically used to kill weeds in the infield section, to remove grass from the dirt paths where players run around the bases, in the area around the bleachers and around the fence line, Kinney explained.

Board member Keryn Laite agreed that Roundup was off the table, but raised the issue of the increased expenses of using the organic program. He also asked for more information and wants school staff to review the work that needs to be done line by line to see what tasks they can do to reduce the overall cost.

Board member David Barrows supported going with the same methods used last year, and said the board did not have enough time to look into a new approach.

Kinney said he could get more information, so that the board could make informed choices, and look into the difference between the status quo versus organic for other products, including fertilizers.

Kinney provided an overview of the current status of the budget, which selectmen have been discussing, and are scheduled to finalize March 25.

He said wages appear to be increasing by more than 5 percent, but the higher amount is actually due to 53 pay periods falling within the fiscal year July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020.

Spending will decrease by 36 percent to $4,300 for parking attendants at Lincolnville Beach. That covers four hours a day, seven days a week for 10 weeks, at $15.42 per hour. Last year $6,720 was budgeted, but only around $1,000 was used by Dec. 31. Hiring parking attendants to enforce the parking ordinance at Lincolnville Beach, and other areas where parking enforcement is needed, was new to the budget last year.

Stipends for the fire chief, deputy and assistant fire chiefs and truck officer total $10,000, with firefighter wages budgeted at $14,700, the same amount as last year. The town's volunteer firefighters are paid $11 for each fire call they respond to, which will increase to $12 Jan. 1. There is no increase in the total fire department budget of $94,111 from last year.

The cost of protection services, including ambulance and emergency management, is decreasing. Last year Lincolnville's cost for ambulance services tripled to $57,500 going into a one-year contract renewal with North East Mobile Health Services. In 2020, $54,463 is budgeted, a 5 percent decrease. Streetlight costs are down 14 percent to $3,000 because of a planned conversion to LED fixtures. Emergency management costs are down 9 percent to $1,972.

While Town Office building costs are down 1.4 percent overall, landscaping costs are increasing 32 percent to $2,650, and building maintenance is up 17 percent to $3,500. Electricity costs are down 12.5 percent to $3,500. The town is generating energy with a solar panel array provided by ReVision Energy, and is paying the company 13 cents per kilowatt-hour. Also included in the proposed budget is $20,500 for a new reserve fund toward the purchase of the solar array in 2022. If the town purchases the solar array, at an estimated cost of $61,500, it would own the energy it produced for the 30-year estimated life of the solar facility.

Costs for public works, highways and bridges will increase 2.8 percent to $851,641. Winter maintenance is the most costly area at $358,472, up 4 percent. This covers the $245,000 winter road maintenance contract, $58,500 for sand, $52,250 for salt, and $2,575 for the parking lot at Lincolnville Beach. The paving program is up 3 percent to $280,000. Lincolnville has a road surface maintenance plan, with paving of Youngtown Road scheduled.

The harbor budget totals $29,049 up 9 percent. Pier repair and maintenance is $21,500, up $13.5 percent, and includes decking repair, re-decking a spare incline, float maintenance moving and storage, storm damage repairs and labor.

The Lincolnville Community Library is requesting continuation of $3,000 in annual support from the town, which was first instituted in the 2019 budget.

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