News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, February 27, 2014
Increase of 5.7%
Board eyes $2.5 million combined draft budget in Brooklin

by Rich Hewitt

The Board of Selectmen, on Tuesday, February 18, briefly reviewed a draft, combined school and town budget that totals more than $2.5 million.

The total of $2,578,414, which includes the county tax, represents an overall increase of $140,601 or about 5.7 percent more than the current budget.

According to Selectman Mike Roy, that increase along with cuts in state revenue will likely trigger a property tax increase once the budget is approved.

The town expects to receive $12,759 in state revenue sharing funds this year, $8,365 less than last year. The school budget also anticipates receiving less state funding, Roy said.

With boat taxes and local road assistance staying just about the same and auto excise tax increasing less than anticipated, the budget increases likely will result in a property tax increase, he said.

The draft combined budget anticipates raising $2.3 million from property tax, an increase of $16,951.

Roy said the board won’t know the full impact on property taxes until after the assessors have completed their regular review. In a related matter, the board noted that Ellery Bane from RJD Assessing will be in town on May 8 and will be available to meet with residents who have questions about their property.

The combined budget includes the school budget of $1,649,297, an increase of $105,418 from the current budget. The town budget of $795,481, not including the county tax, is up $48,203 from this year.

Paving the town’s roads accounts for the biggest portion of the overall increase. The paving and reconstruction account is up $15,000 from $75,000 to $90,000 and the board has proposed creating a paving and reconstruction reserve account and funding it initially with $20,000.

Roy explained that the cost of oil is driving the increases in that account.

“The price of asphalt is so severe, that we can’t afford to do one road each year,” he said.

Brooklin Road Commissioner Neil Allen met with representatives from Lane Construction and determined that the town could expect to spend an average of $110,000 on paving annually. Based on that estimate, the board has proposed allocating that amount—$90,000 in the regular account and $20,000 in the reserve account—this year. The idea, Roy said, is to allocate that amount each year. Some years, when they pave shorter roads, the town might not use the full amount, so the reserve will build up and be there when the paving of much longer roads will require more than that $110,000 estimate.

“We’re trying to have the same amount every year, instead of going up and down each year,” he said. “We’re trying to look to the future and level the budget out.”

The board plans to include the creation of the reserve account as a separate article on the town meeting warrant.

The town landings account also will see a marked increase. The budget includes $18,000 in that account, up from $5,000 last year. The increase reflects planned engineering work at Naskeag Point and Center Harbor.

The town needs to conduct a Tier 1 study at the Naskeag Point landing before it can expand the parking in that area. The town also expects to do some engineering work for a retaining wall at Center Harbor. The wall is part of an easement agreement with Steve White at Brooklin Boat Yard and will help to create additional parking at that landing.

The account for town office maintenance is also up, from $3,500 to $22,000. That account includes about $11,000 to repair the roof at the town office.

The winter roads account is up $10,000 to $160,000, and the animal control account will double from $1,500 to $3,000 to reflect increased activity by the town’s new animal control officer, according to Roy. The budget for the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department was under-budgeted last year, Roy said. That account is budgeted this year at $5,000, an increase of $2,000.

The board will continue to review the draft figures along with the draft of the warrant for town meeting.