Review board OKs $9 million town budget

15 years ago

By Elna Seabrooks
Staff Writer

    HOULTON — After some modifications, the Board of Budget Review passed a nearly $9 million budget Monday evening with few objections. The tight budget held the line on spending where possible but the panel of seven at the meeting ended up increasing the budget in two principle areas: Roads 2000 and account lines where salaries increased. The staff salary increases are due to an additional payroll period in 2010 extending over 53 weeks instead of 52.
    Opposing the budget line increases related to an additional pay period was Carl Lord, a review board member, who said he would oppose any increase more than 1 percent over last year’s budget.
    However, Lord and the other members of the review board all agreed to put a full mil into the Roads 2000 budget, thereby increasing it from $200,000 to $267,000.  
    Another increase in the budget was due to a full year of debt service, or interest, on the $1 million loan for road repair that began in June this year.
    Town Manager Doug Hazlett said that while the expense budget is up from 2009’s $8.4 million to this year’s proposed $8.9 million budget, it represents an increase of a little more than $487,000. “The revenue projected at $8.7 million in 2010 represents an increase of $657,000. So, we have actually had a larger increase in revenue than expected due to increased taxable valuations and improved ambulance revenue,” said Hazlett.
    The budget review board also recommended against any increase in the school budget and held that line  flat to the actual expenses in 2009 at just under $2.2 million. The move, according to the review board, was made primarily to send a message that the school board should also curtail its spending. The school board operates on a fiscal year unlike the town which is on a calendar year. The process for the school board should start in a few months.
    However, in reality, the SAD 29 share of the budget is decided by the school board and not the town council. “Neither the budget review board or the town council has any authority over the SAD 29 budget. That authority rests entirely, by law, with the school board” said Hazlett.
    The tentative date for a public hearing on the budget review is set for Monday, Jan. 25 at 6:30 p.m. in the town office at 21 Water St.