Chebeague Island Town Meeting to vote on $2.9M budget

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CHEBEAGUE ISLAND — Residents will vote on a $2.88 million combined town and school budget Saturday at Town Meeting.

If approved, the town side of the fiscal 2013 spending plan would be $1.96 million, a decrease of $5,000 from the current year, Town Administrator Eric Dyer said last week.

The budget includes a new part-time administrative bookkeeper position that will serve both the town and school. The town will fund $9,000 of that position, while another $3,000 will come from the school budget.

“We’ve been working with a certain staff configuration,” Dyer said, “and talking with our auditors, it makes sense for us to separate some of the responsibilities of the financial management in order to provide more internal controls … and more accuracy and reliability in how we process accounts payable and receivables.”

Chebeague’s tax rate of $19.95 per $1,000 of property valuation could increase by 1.5 percent, Dyer said. That depends on how much the town assessor budgets for overlay – buffer funds in case of unanticipated expenses, he explained. The rate was $19.80 in fiscal 2011; in 2008, the town’s first fiscal year after its secession from Cumberland,  the rate was $20.49.

The fiscal 2012 school budget of nearly $886,000 could see a total increase of 3.6 percent, to nearly $919,000. But more money is being carried forward from the undesignated fund balance than was used in fiscal 2012 – nearly $118,000 instead of $74,500 – to offset that increase.

With nearly $139,000 coming from the state – about $8,400 less than the town received for fiscal 2012 – the net school budget for fiscal 2013 would be about $662,000, a 0.4 percent decrease.

Alton Hadley, who said last week that his $35,000 salary as superintendent of schools and principal will remain flat next year, has said the gross budget increase reflects the added tuition costs of sending more Chebeague students to Yarmouth.

Last year, Chebeague authorized the gradual transition of its elementary school students to Yarmouth schools, instead of sending them to School Administrative District 51 (Cumberland-North Yarmouth).

Under his contract, Dyer’s salary will increase 6 percent, from $50,000 this year to $53,000 in fiscal 2013.

Among non-budget articles will be one calling for the creation of a Shellfish Conservation Ordinance. The shellfish-related sections of the existing Coastal Waters Ordinance would be repealed, creating two separate ordinances and clarifying the distinction between the Shellfish Conservation and Coastal Waters commissions.

This will be the first Town Meeting that will not include election of town officials. Instead, they will be elected at the polls Tuesday, June 12. If approved by Town Meeting, candidates who are on the ballot will be allowed to make brief statements at the meeting, along with declared write-in candidates.

The warrant can be viewed at townofchebeague.org. Town Meeting begins at 9 a.m., June 9, at Island Hall.

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.