Chebeague Island municipal budget could shrink

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CHEBEAGUE ISLAND — The town’s municipal budget could decrease by about $45,000 in fiscal 2013, Town Administrator Eric Dyer said last week.

Meanwhile, the school budget could see a small increase, although undesignated funds carried over from the current fiscal year would produce a net budget decrease, Superintendent Alton Hadley said Tuesday.

The total fiscal 2012 budget was $2.85 million, including nearly $2 million on the municipal side and almost $886,000 on the school side.

Dyer said the town’s goal is to continue to provide the same or better service as in the past, as well as “to try to gain efficiency in what we do, and hopefully at the same time, lower the (property tax) rate.”

He said the municipal budget – which includes the operating and capital improvement budgets, as well as debt service and contingency funds – could decrease from nearly $2 million to about $1.95 million.

Although the nearly $267,000 capital budget could remain the same next year, Dyer and the Capital Planning and Finance Committee have expressed a desire to put more money into that account, closer to $300,000 in later years. This could happen after some of Chebeague’s debt service has been retired.

Some of the town’s anticipated municipal savings next year stem from being able to roll forward unused money for winter road materials, and therefore not having to raise as much in fiscal 2013, Dyer said.

He expects the town’s non-property tax revenues to remain at about $400,000 for fiscal 2013.

According to preliminary numbers, Hadley said, the gross school budget could increase to about $914,000. But he plans to carry forward more money from the undesignated fund balance than was used for fiscal 2012 – nearly $118,000 instead of $74,500 – to offset the increase.

With nearly $139,000 from the state – more than $8,400 less than Chebeague received for fiscal 2012 – the net school budget for fiscal 2013 would be almost $660,000, a nearly $5,000 decrease from the current net amount.

Last year the town authorized the gradual transition of its elementary students to Yarmouth schools, as opposed to sending them to School Administrative District 51 schools. Hadley credited the gross budget increase to the added tuition costs of sending more Chebeague students to Yarmouth this next year.

A budget workshop was scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 22, and future workshops are to be held March 28, April 11 and 25, and May 23. All are held at the Chebeague Island Hall at 6 p.m.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.