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Freeport Town Council approves $9.7M municipal budget

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Freeport Town Council approves $9.7M municipal budget

FREEPORT — The Town Council Tuesday night approved a $9.7 million municipal budget for fiscal 2010, including more than $14,400 for a Web site coordinator in the final hour.

The budget passed 6-1 without the support of Councilor Charlotte Bishop.

"This doesn't feel like the time to cut other line items to include positions, when we have asked department heads to do so much already," Bishop said. "It is not a good time to add another position."

Councilor Genie Beaulieu was also against adding a new position to the budget for 2010, and suggested postponing the proposal for a year. While she did not support the amendment to the budget, she voted to approve the final spending package.

"The seven of us have not been able to make any cuts to the budget because the administrators have already cut it to the bone," Beaulieu said. "I don't want to approve a position to have to remove it next year."

The proposed expense for the Web site coordinator, which Bishop and Beaulieu opposed, was more than  $18,700 for a 15-hour-a-week position, with benefits. To compromise, Town Manager Dale Olmstead suggested a 10-hour job at a cost of just over $10,000. The council compromised at $14,440.

Councilors Bill Muldoon, Joe Migliaccio, Eric Pandora and Chairman Rich DeGrandpre supported adding the money to the budget.

Muldoon said the addition of a Web coordinator to maintain and oversee the town Web site is "virtually necessary," even with fewer hours than proposed.

"The Web site is the face of the town," he said. "It is also consistent with the council goal to communicate efficiently with the public."

The additional spending will increase the amount to be raised by taxation to $5.7 million. The tax rate increase of one cent will produce a mil rate of $3.12 per every $1,000 of assessed value. According to Town Finance Director Abbe Yacoben, the increase is a 0.08 percent over this year.

Olmstead said the fiscal 2010 budget is a direct result of the "non-union folks who stepped up to the plate."

"These people gave up their cost-of-living raises, salary raises, and that is the reason we have no tax rate increase this year," he said. "The non-union folks came to me, so we didn't have to reduce the force."

He said nearly $70,000 was saved in the process.

Freeport residents still need to approve a school budget. The Regional School Unit 5 board is expected to meet June 3 for a budget discussion, and hold a regular meeting Wednesday, June 10. The annual budget meeting will be Tuesday, June 16, and the budget validation referendum, where residents vote to approve the budget will be Thursday, June 25.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net.