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Freeport council approves municipal budget of nearly $9.3M

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Freeport council approves municipal budget of nearly $9.3M

FREEPORT — The Town Council Tuesday night approved a $9.27 million budget for fiscal 2011. The budget is $67,000 less than this year, and keeps municipal taxes flat.

The budget passed 5-2, without the support of Councilors Joe Migliaccio and Eric Pandora.

Migliaccio proposed transferring $4,200 from a fund designated for a website coordinator that was added to the budget in the final hour during last year's budget deliberations, but has not been used yet. He proposed using the $4,200 to create an on-demand video program for viewing meetings on the town website. The service would allow video archiving and access to meetings on the Web.

Migliaccio said the financial shift would not add money to the budget, but would allow for greater transparency, and reach a council goal of better communication with the public.

But only Migliaccio, Pandora and Councilor Rich DeGrandpre were in favor of transferring the funds.

Although he was in favor of adding money to the budget for a website coordinator last year, council Chairman Bill Muldoon on Tuesday said the money for the on-demand service should be placed in the budget for next year, and go through the process "the right way at the inception of the budget season."

"I know we need to be on the cusp of technology, but I don't think we can do it," he said. "It is not the time."

Library Director Beth Edmonds said the shift of $4,200 did not feel right to her, because she lost two full-time employees in this year's budget.

"I understand the challenges you face," she told councilors. "But, philosophically and personally, I am horrified you wouldn't take into consideration the requests brought to you by the department heads."

The council will form an information technology subcommittee over the summer to discuss infrastructure and leadership.

In addition, councilors amended the capital plan to add $25,000 for a new vehicle for the fire chief. The money was taken from the fire reserve account. 

Town Financial Director Abigail Yacoben said the residents still need to approve a school budget before the entire municipal and school tax rate can be determined.

The Regional School Unit 5 board was expected to approve a budget May 12. The annual public school budget meeting will be Wednesday, May 26. The budget validation referendum will be Tuesday, June 8. 

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