Harpswell eyes proposed budget of more than $4M

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Initial committee changes to budget requests in Harpswell showed little overall increase in the municipal budget this year.

Treasurer Marguerite Kelly said an overall increase of nearly $39,000 resulted in an LD1-compliant budget with about a 2 percent increase in salaries, meeting the Board of Selectmen’s two requests to the committee.

Kelly said municipal department spending is “basically flat” in the nearly $4.08 million proposed budget. Several “special projects” are included as new items and there was an increase in capital reserves for proposed road projects and emergency vehicle purchases.

Kelly said about $1 million will be borrowed to fund road projects and emergency vehicles will be purchased using reserve funding of about $200,000.

Special projects include a local tax “circuit breaker” program to supplement the state program, funding for wetland delineation on town-acquired property, FEMA costs and funding within a conservation program for surveys, Kelly said.

The local circuit breaker will be funded with $60,000; wetland delineation will receive $6,000 and the FEMA account and conservation fund will be allocated $5,000 under the proposed budget, according to documents provided by Kelly.

There will be an increase in the proposed budget for Harpswell Community Television as well, to provide salary adjustments for the station manager and assistant in addition to facility repairs.

The budget includes a request for $50,000 from the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust to be used toward preservation of property in Harpswell. The land trust was recently awarded a grant for the preservation, but will likely be required to provide some amount of matching funds, Kelly said, so the request could be amended.

Mitchell Field spending will increase under the proposed budget, though it is not yet clear where the money will be spent – a feasibility study or demolition – related to a boat launch in the area, Kelly said.

One area of spending that decreased from the proposed amount is within the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department budget. Kelly said the town anticipated purchase of new vehicles for the patrol officer and marine officers who cover Harpswell, but the department said the existing vehicles would do for another year.

Also of note, funding for the New Meadows Project, which would perform work on private roads and property to reduce the risk of storm-water run-off, was denied by the committee this year. Kelly said there was support for the project concept, but property owners had not been contacted, leading the committee to delay funding. The initial request was for nearly $10,000, according to documents provided by Kelly.

There will be a budget workshop with selectmen this month and Harpswell residents will vote on the municipal budget at Town Meeting in March.

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