Wiscasset selectmen on April 3 decided on the capital improvement budget and tweaked and voted on the budget warrant articles.
Of the nearly $1 million in department capital requests, selectmen chose to fund the necessary spending for pier debt of $40,464, backhoe debt of $22,237, the full request of the road and sidewalk construction request of $200,000, $35,400 for radios and repeaters for the fire departtment, and funds for the municipal building floor project for $45,000. The Parks and Recreation Department will fund $10,000 for planning for a new HVAC system, $40,000 for new lockers, and $8,000 for a new lawnmower, for a total of $401,101.
The town proposes adding $142,993 from the reserves for tax relief, and $157,007 from unspent capital funds from last year’s budget to reduce property taxes. As proposed, the tax commitment would increase 2.02 percent in FY 2019.
The budget warrant articles are: administration: $172,056; airport: $90,769; animal control: $17,367; assessing: $6,778; boards and commissions: $2,843; celebrations: $12,000; cemeteries: $108,013, funded by endowment; clerk’s office: $90,381; code enforcement: $35,956; community organizations: $62,865, including $57,250 for the library, $1,500 for Healthy Kids, $1,515 for New Hope for Women, $1,000 for the Help Yourself Food Pantry, $1,000 for the Church of the Nazarene Food Pantry, and $600 for the American Legion Flag Program; comprehensive plan: $20,000; contingency: $20,000; contractual services, mostly legal and auditing: $197,500; county taxes: $624,987, using an estimated 2 percent increase; debt service: $243, 234, including $15,000 for the tax anticipation note and $228,234 for the school withdrawal bond; elections: $19,185; EMA/EMS: $540,598; finance: $223,261; fire department: $150,938; general assistance: $20,000, down from an initial amount of $25,000, mostly because only about half the money from last year has been spent); municipal building: $79,141; municipal insurance: $248,253, including municipal property/casualty, $37,056; unemployment compensation, $14,569; worker’s compensation, $149,518; and retiree health insurance, $47,100; parks and recreation: $790,288; planning (through a contract with Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission): $28,700; police department: $435,541; school resource officer: $50,166; public utilities: $275,314; public works: $656,600; office of the selectmen: $27,162; senior center: $14,397; shellfish conservation: $6,003; transfer station: $603,944; wastewater treatment plant: $751,736. Wastewater treatment is a separate budget funded by user fees, but user fees have not kept pace with the aging facility’s maintenance. The plant is under a Department of Environmental Protection consent decree to solve longstanding issues with equipment and treatment problems, left unresolved for nearly 10 years. If not addressed another way, the cost to fund wastewater treatment will result in a 29.61 percent increase in user fees. Waterfront and harbors: $44,909. The school budget was not yet finalized.
Town Manager John O’Connell provided revenue projections:
Airport: $58,580, up 9.55 percent; animal control: $400, up 100 percent; code enforcement: $16,800, flat; EMS/Ambulance: $288,000, down 23.20 percent, mostly for lack of staff to respond to out of town calls; parks and recreation: $440,000, down 2.22 percent; police department: $1,350, flat; senior center: $6,000, up 20 percent; shellfish conservation: $2,700, flat; transfer station: $256,151, up 4.51 percent; waterfront and harbors: $20,800, flat; state revenues: $570,261, flat; charges for services: $65,200, up 0.31 percent; other revenues, not including property taxes: $179,500, down 60.22 percent, mostly because there is no transfer in from capital this year nor use of the fund balance. Property taxes will fund the rest of the budget.
The budget committee will meet April 8 to recommend the warrant articles. Selectmen will meet April 9 to sign the warrant.