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Rockport leaders work on town budget for coming year

By Daniel Dunkle | Feb 22, 2021
Taken from the Rockport budget draft.

Rockport — Rockport town officials are working on the budget for 2021-2022 after weathering a tough year due to the pandemic.

Town Manager Bill Post has presented his draft to the Budget Committee and Select Board. The net municipal budget is $4.4 million, up nearly 7% from last year.

The net budget is derived after the nearly $2.5 million in expected revenues are subtracted from the $6.9 million in total municipal expenditures.

Post told the Budget Committee during a meeting Feb. 17 that municipal expenditures are up about $700,000, and acknowledged that is a large figure.

He noted the proposed budget is over the LD1 limit.

“As you review the budget detail, you will notice that this is the first year of the 2019 Infrastructure Bond payment ($178,200) and as mentioned above, I am proposing $450,000 for road construction and paving,” he wrote in his letter at the beginning of the 492-page budget document.

He is recommending using $300,000 from the Unassigned Fund Balance to be used to lower taxes.

Major budget department expenses include:

-General government including town manager, clerk and planning: $1.5 million, up 3.9 percent

-Public assistance: $23,410, down 13.3 percent

-Police: $659,880, up 5.1 percent

-Fire Department: $573,170, up 2.3 percent

-Harbor: $245,834, up 39.5 percent

-Public Works: $1.9 million, up 18 percent

-Sanitation: $173,189, down 2 percent

-Library: $412,988, down 7.2 percent

-Parks: $74,925, down 19.8 percent

-Opera House: $198,200, up 48.8 percent

-Debt: $406,250, up 42.7 percent

The budget document offers explanations for places where the proposed budget saw increases.

“For years, the paving and road construction budget has been underfunded by approximately $400,000 per year,” Post wrote. “The infrastructure bond has helped the town catch up on some road improvements. In this budget I have allocated $450,000 for road construction and paving. This is an increase of $250,000 over FYE21.”

“Preliminary design has been completed for a replacement of the West Rockport Fire Station. The funding in the budget ($40,000) will move the project toward construction. This amount is likely to change.”

Harbor expenses are up. As with some of the other departments, cleaning services are now being completed by a professional cleaning contractor due to the pandemic.

Building repairs and maintenance includes an increase of $15,000 to re-shingle the Harbor Master Building roof. In addition, float replacement has a budgeted amount of $24,000.

“Float Reserve increased by $10,000. This was reduced by $10,000 in the pandemic cuts in FYE21.”

The Opera House increases include: “Building Improvements increased by $29,000 for new stage lighting. This is offset by revenue from the Opera House Reserve.”

“Opera House Reserve increased by $25,000. This was eliminated in FYE21 as part of the pandemic cuts.”

“In general, non-union employees are being provided a 2% wage increase to be consistent with previous years.”

The Select Board and Budget Committee will be looking at the budget from about February to April.

Residents will decide whether to approve the final budget proposal at the annual town meeting by referendum on June 8.

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