North Yarmouth Town Meeting to weigh 6% budget hike

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NORTH YARMOUTH — The proposed $2.7 million municipal budget for fiscal year 2019 – up 5.98 percent, or $151,000, from current spending – includes $165,000 for a variety of facility improvements.

Voters will decide on the line-by-line budget at Town Meeting, beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 28, at the former North Yarmouth Memorial School. 

The warrant is posted at northyarmouth.org.

Factoring in a $7.3 million bill from School Administrative District 51 and nearly $337,000 from Cumberland County, the town’s total assessment would be $10.4 million. Subtracting $1.5 in revenues, along with the use of $100,000 from the town’s undesignated fund balance, the net amount to be raised from North Yarmouth taxpayers would be $8.8 million.

As a result, $1.71 per $1,000 of property valuation would be added to the existing $16.27 tax rate, increasing that to $17.98. A $350,000 home would see an annual tax bill increase from $5,694 to $6,293.

The town’s public works line item shows a $244,000 decrease, down to nearly $448,000, largely due to about $175,000 in road maintenance expenses being moved to the capital reserves category. Capital reserves are proposed to increase to nearly $539,000, a nearly $306,000 hike.

Included in that capital reserves line is $165,000 toward municipal facilities and grounds improvements, a master plan that debuted in the current fiscal year and forecasts needs through the next decade.

Although $156,000 is actually proposed to be spent next year, $165,000 is to be budgeted for fiscal year 2019 and subsequent years, to gradually build up a savings balance for anticipated larger capital needs such as a new facility, Town Manager Rosemary Roy said in an interview April 18.

“What we’re trying to do is establish a regular plan (for improvements),” she explained. A cash balance of about $802,000 is expected if the program is maintained at $165,000 a year.

Included in the facilities funds are $61,800 for improvements at the Town Office, such as $35,000 for an air conditioning system, $9,250 for a carpet replacement, $7,500 for a front office service counter, $5,000 for an air make-up and quality control system, $3,450 for an automatic generator switch, and $1,600 for interior lighting.

Issues at the 10 Village Square Road building – which was built in 1993 as a four-story home, and has housed town offices since 2001 – include a lack of compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act standards, which requires an elevator to be installed; air quality and mold concerns due to air and water leaks in the building; and flooding in the basement, where public meetings are held, Roy has said.

Town officials have budgeted $200,000 toward the building entrance, stairs and an elevator for fiscal year 2023.

The FY 2019 facilities funds also include nearly $58,000 in public works site improvements, such as $10,000 for an exhaust fan and shuttered louver, $9,800 for foundation engineering at the sand and salt shed, and $8,100 for metal roof repairs at the garage. Another $21,500 would go toward town grounds, and $15,300 for the fire-rescue building.

Also under capital reserves, nearly $39,000 is proposed to be spent on a software upgrade for the financial system, which covers business like motor vehicle registrations. The software dates from the early 2000s, Roy said.

Municipal administration is projected to rise about $58,000 to approximately $497,000 due to cost-of-living increases and a roughly $24,000 North Yarmouth Memorial School caretaker position being moved into that category from public works.

In a twist from prior years, legislative articles will precede budget items on the Town Meeting warrant. Those include amending the Town Charter to  change the status of three committees – Economic Development and Sustainability Committee, the North Yarmouth School Fund, and the Wescustogo Hall Committee – from “ad hoc” to “standing.”

An amendment that would add teeth to the town’s animal noise ordinance is also to be addressed April 28. The rule currently requires the animal control officer to first issue a warning and then submit a written report to the Select Board before being allowed to issue a summons.

In the amended language, the officer would issue a second warning, then submit a report to the town manager, avoiding the need to wait for a Select Board meeting for authorization to proceed with the summons.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.