Municipal budget could mean 6% tax hike in Brunswick

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BRUNSWICK — Despite some restored state aid, the town’s preliminary municipal budget for fiscal 2015 would still require a property tax increase of around 6 percent.

The estimated tax hike does not take into account next year’s school budget, or the town’s annual appropriation for Cumberland County.

Interim Town Manager John Eldridge said the largest drivers for a possible tax hike include contractual increases in salaries and benefits, a tentative restoration of some capital projects, and increases in some operating expenses, like utilities.

A possible tax hike could also be driven by the absence of a one-time revenue of $290,000 that was made available to the town last year when it agreed to sell a parcel of land on Thomas Point Road and the downtown Recreation Center.

The town avoided further reduction in revenue for next year when Gov. Paul LePage on Wednesday let a bill to restore $40 million in state revenue sharing for municipalities pass into law without his signature.

If the legislation had been vetoed, the town would have lost $650,000 in revenue, which would have contributed to an additional 2 percent increase in taxes.

Spending of $450,000 for capital projects is only tentative and could be changed before the Town Council approves a budget, Eldridge said. Continuing the capital project cuts from this year means that road reconstruction projects for Nancy and Patricia drives could be deferred for another year.

Eldridge noted that the preliminary tax hike is solely based on budget requests from the town’s different departments, which means the figure could change by May 1, his deadline to recommend a budget to the Town Council.

The interim town manager said he will be reviewing the department budgets over the next three weeks, and a budget review schedule will be shared with the council next week.

The council is expected to adopt the fiscal 2015 municipal budget on May 29.

As for next year’s school budget, Superintendent of Schools Paul Perzanoski said it’s too early to assess its tax impact because there are still moving targets for what the School Department could require for next year.

Perzanoski said he is revising budget requests from the district’s different departments and schools, which will be reviewed in a series of School Board workshops from March 5-April 16.

The board is set to vote on the school budget on April 30, one day before Perzanoski must present it to the Town Council.

Voters will have to validate the school budget on June 10.

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.