Final budget figures add $1.17 to rate

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Number crunching is finally over for people who figure out budgets in Freeport, and the results look like this: A $9,352,257 municipal, or operating, budget will add 4 cents to the tax rate of $15.80 per $1,000 in assessed property value. The amount approved is $386,598, or 4.1 percent, more than this year.

Freeport’s portion of the Regional School Unit 5 budget is $16,548,807, which will add $1.09 to the tax rate. That amount is $1,472,049, or 9.76 percent, more than Freeport’s share of the 2014-2015 RSU 5 budget.

The Cumberland County tax of $941,811 is 7.14 percent more than this year and will add another 4 cents to Freeport’s tax rate.

The capital and tax-increment financing budgets are taken from reserves and will not impact this year’s tax rates. The newly passed capital budget is $2,373,500, compared to $2,240,500 this year, a $133,000, or 5.6 percent, increase.

The new TIF budget is actually lower, at $166,000. The figure was 9.6 percent more this year at $182,000.

In total, all the budgets will add $1.17 to the tax rate, which now will be $16.97 per $1,000.

The Town Council put a wrap on the new municipal budget late on the night of June 16, settling on a figure that is $1,650 less than the original proposal. Through the spring budget process, the council made $55,500 in reductions and $53,850 in additions.

“Essentially, the amount stayed pretty much the same,” Town Manager Peter Joseph said. “We tried to keep the budget impact on the municipal portion low this year. For the most part we succeeded. There’s always a good deal of attention paid by the council to the smallest amounts.”

The biggest change reflected in the new municipal budget will be the addition of beefed-up ambulance service, in the form of a second 24-hour crew, at a cost of $50,000. There is now one 24-hour rescue crew at the fire department, and a second truck has 12-hour coverage, plus on-call coverage. The added funding will provide for a new nighttime shift.

“Occasionally at nighttime they would have trouble staffing a second ambulance, which meant longer response times,” Joseph said.

Paul Conley, acting fire chief, said that the new crew should be operational by the middle of July.

“We’ll be bringing on new people,” Conley said. “I’d say about 30 days.”

The other big change in town will come thanks to an increase of $72,000 to the capital budget, for a new Department of Public Works dump truck and repair equipment. The capital budget does not impact this year’s tax rate, Joseph said.

The Town Council decided it wants to do more tasks in town with its own workers, and hire out less. The town will stop contracting out for town maintenance tasks on July 1, and hire the equivalent of two full-time workers.

In other cost-saving measures to the municipal budget, the council removed $20,000 in funding for its grant match account, and $10,000 in contingency money.

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