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Proposed Brunswick budget shows 1.6% increase in tax rate

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Proposed Brunswick budget shows 1.6% increase in tax rate

BRUNSWICK — Acting Town Manager Gary Brown on Monday presented the Town Council with what he called a "status-quo budget" for the upcoming fiscal year.

Brown's proposed spending plan totals $54.3 million and would require a 1.6 percent increase in the property tax rate.  Brunswick's current mil rate is $22.54 per $1,000 of assessed value. If adopted by the Town Council, the new budget would bump the mil rate to $22.90. 

The plan anticipates a 1.34 percent decrease in revenues against a 0.55 percent increase in expenditures. 

Residents will have an opportunity to comment on the spending plan during a May 4 public hearing at 6 Industry Road. 

Sixty-two percent of the budget, or $33.6 million, is driven by the School Department. The school budget recently adopted by the School Board is a 0.16 percent increase over the current year. 

In his report to the council, Brown warned that the school budget was calculated without final state subsidy estimates, which continue to be a moving target as the Legislature grapples with a widening budget shortfall.

Also, he wrote, the state has yet to authorize bonds for Brunswick's new, $28.3 million elementary school. The state is supposed to fund 90 percent of the project, but last fall delayed authorizing the borrowing on Brunswick's new school and several others in the state.

The school budget for 2009-2010 does not include debt service for the new school. Construction on the elementary school is supposed to begin this year. It's scheduled to open in 2010.

Although Brown said the municipal spending plan doesn't include any new programs or services, there are some changes from the current year. 

In addition to a $16,500 allocation to Coastal Transportation to assist in a public transit program, Brown has also proposed increasing its funding of the Brunswick Downtown Association from $5,000 to $50,000 so that the BDA will have a full-time executive director.

Although the BDA's funding would increase, Brown said the town would save $19,000 because he would eliminate one of two positions in the Economic and Community Development Department. That position is held by Amanda Similien, whose current salary and benefit package totals $64,000. Similien, who could transition to the BDA, has already begun working more closely with the organization in projects like the Taste of Brunswick, a restaurant festival to be held in June. 

Brown has also proposed a reduction in staff at the town clerk's office, while adding an additional firefighter. Brown said the new firefighter wouldn't impact the budget because it will reduce overtime costs. 

The town's public safety budget increased from $4.5 million in 2004 to $7.1 million in 2008-2009. Brown's proposed budget allocates $7.2 million for public safety.

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or smistler@theforecaster.net
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