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Brunswick budget revision could require tax hike

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Brunswick budget revision could require tax hike

BRUNSWICK — The Town Council is seeking public input on how it should fill a more than $300,000 gap in the municipal budget that could result in an additional tax hike.

The council will hold a public hearing July 29 on proposed amendments to the municipal and school budgets, ahead of a vote expected at a special meeting planned for Aug. 8.

The municipal budget gap was triggered by lower-than-expected revenue from the state's recently passed biennial budget. Depending on the council's direction, the total tax increase for next year could increase from 6.6 percent to as much as 7.4.

The state biennial budget also triggered an extra $508,000 in revenue for the School Department, but $443,000 of that will be used to cover state teacher retirement costs that were shifted to local school districts.

Superintendent of Schools Paul Perzanoski said the remaining extra revenue would likely be used to fund the next phase of plans for renovations at Coffin Elementary School and Brunswick Junior High School.

The School Board recently discussed the possibility of building a new elementary school instead of renovating the old Coffin Elementary Building.

The council's meeting Monday will begin at 6:30 p.m. to make room for deliberations on budget amendments and the proposed approval of a major tax increment financing deal with Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority.

The first budget amendment option for the council is to reduce all town department budgets by a total of nearly $287,000, and then using an additional $20,000 from last year's revenue. The remaining balance would be absorbed by a tax increase.

The second option would reduce the town's paving budget by $250,000, make a combined $52,000 reduction in debt service and insurance, and pad the rest of the gap with some revenue from last year.

Affected roads would include Columbia Avenue, Belmont Street, Oakland Street and River Road.

A third option would increase the tax rate to 7 percent and pad the rest of the budget with the combined reduction in debt service and insurance, along with an additional $20,000 from last year's revenue.

The fourth option would simply raise the town's tax rate to 7.4 percent.

A fifth option would reduce all town department budgets by a total of nearly $209,000, and bring in an additional $20,000 from last year's revenue. The department reductions would also include a $87,000 reduction in the paving budget for Columbia Avenue and Belmont Street.

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