Brunswick council reverses reverse-angle parking, introduces town budget

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BRUNSWICK — The Town Council voted Monday to end reverse-angle parking at Maine Street Station, and took its first look at the 2011-2012 municipal budget.

The proposed budget would increase property taxes 5.29 percent, or $1.21 per $1,000. With no new programs or services proposed, Town Manager Gary Brown said Brunswick is suffering from a loss of revenue more than an increase in expenditures.

“This is pretty much a status quo budget,” Brown said.

Revenue is down more than $1.52 million from last year, including a loss of $610,000 in housing service fees that were paid to the town by a U.S. Navy housing provider. The most significant decrease is a more than $1 million loss in education funding.

The town’s expenditures are increasing by nearly $237,000, a significant portion of which Brown attributed to increases in transportation costs.

For example, the Fire Department budgeted $28,000 for diesel fuel in the upcoming fiscal year, a 22.8 percent increase over the $22,800 in the 2010-2011 budget. The Police Department expects its gasoline costs to increase to nearly $109,000 from less than $95,000, a 14.5 percent increase.

Brown said the town will not be hiring or laying off any town employees.

“We have to cut as deep as we can go without sacrificing the level of service people in this community expect and appreciate,” he said.

But he noted that if the School Department’s proposed budget passes, 32 staff positions will be cut, coming mostly from Jordan Acres Elementary School, which would be temporarily closed.

Although there are no more town layoffs proposed, he said several departments are either not filling vacant positions or are shuffling staff around in order to save money.

The director of economic and community development position, last held by David Markovchick, will go unfilled, and the Police Department is reorganizing to cut costs. Instead of having two police commanders and a chief, the department will now have a chief, a deputy chief and a captain, who Commander Marc Hagan said would receive a lower salary than a commander. Hagan will serve as deputy chief, and the department will soon begin to search for a captain.

The information technology and cable television departments will also be reorganized under the proposed budget to better reflect what Brown described as an increased demand for IT services and a decreased need for cable TV staffing. Currently there are two full-time positions in each department, as well as one part-time position.

The new budget would transition the full-time cable TV position into part-time over the course of the year, and supplement with more part-time employees who would also work in the IT department. Brown said eventually the two departments would be merged.

Parking

The council voted 6-3 to get rid of reverse-angle parking at Maine Street Station.

The three councilors who opposed the action expressed concerns about spending approximately $20,000 to redo the parking lot, argued that back-in parking is safer, and wanted to try enforcing the law before changing the parking lot completely.

“I think it’s wasteful to change something when … we’ve never done anything to enforce it,” said Councilor Benet Pols.

But more councilors said the town had erred in trying back-in parking at all, and wanted to correct the mistake.

“We’ve heard from business owners and others, it’s a real headache,” said Councilor Ben Tucker.

Brown said he didn’t know when the work would start.

Emily Guerin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or eguerin@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @guerinemily.


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