Freeport capital improvement budget declines

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FREEPORT — Town Manager Peter Joseph is proposing a five-year capital plan with a revised fiscal year 2017 budget of $1.85 million.

The total proposed 2017 budget decreased more than $697,000 from this year.

The biggest driver of the 2017 capital budget is comprehensive town improvements, with tax increment financing of village improvements, municipal facilities, and the Public Works Department also accounting for large portions of the budget.

The proposed comprehensive town improvement budget is $600,000, which is down $81,000 from the 2016 budget. Most of the budget, $570,000, will be for road work and reconstruction in South Freeport.

Of that, $310,000 is for improvements the town has been planning for some time. The other $260,000 is for a Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System road overlay project.

For the TIF village improvements, the 2017 budget proposal is $271,000, which is an increase of $105,000 from 2016. Most of the money will go to improving sidewalks in various parts of town. 

The proposed municipal facilities budget for 2017 is $258,000, which is an increase of more than $92,000 from the current year. The biggest item in the budget is replacing the roof of the town’s highway building for $90,000. Items that will cost $30,000 each include replacing a building maintenance truck, improving the plow and sweeper storage building, and converting streetlights to LED lights. 

Other municipal work includes window improvements, new furniture town-wide, and computer upgrades town-wide.

The proposed 2017 budget for the Public Works Department is $221,000, which is an increase of $8,000 from 2016. The biggest item is replacing a chassis and a wing on a plow truck for $176,000. There is also $45,000 in the budget for a new pick-up truck with a plow.

For the Police department, the proposed 2017 budget is just over $152,000, which is an increase of over $64,000 from the current year. This will be used to upgrade communication systems, replace firearms, signs and the chief’s vehicle, and also  buy a new squad car.

The proposed Fire Department budget of $115,000 decreased $635,000 from the 2016 budget. The difference comes from the department’s need to purchase a new fire engine last year. This year’s budget will be used to purchase thermal image cameras and to upgrade communication systems.

The proposed budget for the Rescue Department only includes communication systems upgrades, which will cost $110,000, but mean a decrease of $86,000 in the overall budget.

The solid waste and recycling proposed budget for 2017 includes $90,000 for a new loader. The total budget would decrease $80,000 if approved.

The proposed 2017 budget for the town’s cable system is $35,000, which is an increase of $32,000 from 2016. The biggest driver is the need to replace the cable truck, which will cost $25,000. 

The capital plan was scheduled to be presented by Joseph to the Town Council on Tuesday. A workshop will be held March 15, a public hearing on April 5, and formal adoption is scheduled for April 12.

Joseph will present operating, capital, and tax increment financing budgets to councilors on May 3, a workshop will be held May 17, and a public hearing will be held May 31.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Freeport Town Hall

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.