Freeport council OKs 4.3% municipal budget increase

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FREEPORT — The Town Council on Tuesday adopted a municipal budget of $9.3 million for fiscal year 2016.

Councilors approved a budget increase of more than $400,000, or 4.3 percent, which will require a tax increase of 1.62 percent, or 6 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

Some changes were made to the budget before final adoption with cuts in some areas, and increases in others, including a $50,000 addition for staffing in the Rescue Department.

But $55,000 in cuts were made in various areas, including the Planning Department, computer maintenance, the Shellfish Commission, and the planned METRO bus service

Councilors also officially approved spending for the first year of the town’s five-year capital plan. It includes almost $2.5 million in 2016 to repair and replace equipment, improve infrastructure, and spur economic development.

For the Fire Department, $750,000, or 30 percent of the year’s costs, will be used to replace Engine 3, a 1988 pumper that was supposed to be replaced in 2009. 

For the Police Department, $88,000, or 3 percent of the total, would be used to replace two squad cars. The department also wants to redesign and expand its locker room.

Replacing an ambulance for $196,000, or 8 percent of the total, is planned for the town’s Rescue Unit. According to the plan, the maintenance costs for the town’s 2005 ambulance are increasing and it would be better to replace the vehicle.

The Public Works Department needs $223,000, or 9 percent of the total, to replace a vehicle and repair equipment. A 2005 dump truck needs to be replaced because of a “poor maintenance record” and because the model is now obsolete. The department’s wood chipper needs to be repaired as it is “serviceable” but “needs significant repairs.”

For the Solid Waste and Recycling Department, $170,000, or 7 percent of the total, is proposed to replace a baler and to fill the remaining portion of a landfill. Filling the landfill would cost $150,000.

About $30,000 is planned for other repairs, and $3,000 for new cable TV equipment.

About $166,000 would be earmarked for the town’s “Destination Freeport” tax increment financing district, which Town Manager Peter Joseph in March said will help spur economic development and allow sidewalk improvements. The TIF would also be used to help the Freeport Economic Development Corp.

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

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.