Brunswick council to address budget scenarios, traffic signal

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BRUNSWICK — The Town Council is expected to get a more detailed look at the proposed 2011 municipal budget when it meets on Monday, April 5.

The council is also expected to vote on a proposal that would put a traffic signal at the intersection of McKeen and Maine streets.

Town Manager Gary Brown said this week that he’ll present elements of the town’s proposed spending plan, including scenarios showing zero, 2, 4 and 6 percent tax increases.

Brown announced last week that filling a projected $1.97 million budget gap could cost six municipal employees their jobs. Several other jobs would be left vacant and two other town employees would be reassigned.

The six layoffs could include a parking enforcement officer, an administrative secretary in the Police Department, an administrative assistant in codes enforcement, the natural resources planner, the deputy director of public works and a clerk in the assessing department.

Brown has said eliminating the positions would save $600,000 – a 2 percent reduction in the tax rate – and reduce the budget gap to $1.37 million. The remaining shortfall could potentially be met in operating and service reductions, which could also be announced on April 5.

Brown said a 6 percent increase would retain current staff and services.

Brunswick’s current property tax rate is $22.54 per $1,000 of assessed value. The addition or subtraction of about $300,000 in the budget represents a 1 percent change in the tax rate.

The council has received several e-mail messages objecting to the proposed job cuts. Many of the e-mails have lobbied for the retention of the natural resources planner and deputy of public works.

Meanwhile, some are requesting that the town review alternatives to job cuts. On Tuesday, Councilor Benet Pols wrote an e-mail saying the council should consider municipal shutdown days in lieu of cutting jobs. 

Pols said that state agencies have instituted shutdown days, while other municipalities have gone to four-day work weeks.

“I’d like to know the savings – as well as the legalities – associated with two town shutdown days a month,” Pols wrote. “If my recollection is right about the daily savings, (two) shutdown days a month would save almost $500,000.”

The council will also discuss the McKeen-Maine traffic signal proposal, which is generating debate between residents concerned about safety and traffic flow and those worried about noise and urban creep.

The council on March 15 postponed a decision on the signal, which if approved would be paid for by the state Department of Transportation and managed by the town.

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9090 ext. 123 or smistler@theforecaster.net

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