Topsham Town Meeting to vote on 4.8% budget hike

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TOPSHAM — Voters at Town Meeting next week will decide on an $8.5 million fiscal 2014 municipal budget, which reflects a 4.8 percent increase over the current year.

Town Meeting will be held at the Mt. Ararat High School Commons at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 15.

Warrant articles, approved by the Board of Selectmen last month, are usually voted by a show of hands. Budget categories will be decided by line item.

Next year’s municipal spending plan – which does not include school and county expenses – includes $1.5 million for debt service, $2.7 million for general government, about $668,000 for capital programs, $2.2 million for public safety, and $1.5 million for public works and solid waste.

An additional $10,000, for the Topsham Community Fund, would go toward the Androscoggin Bike Path project.

Capital expenses contributing to the budget hike include the $200,000 purchase of a new sweeper vehicle, which replaces one more than 20 years old. Paving costs are up to $325,000, an increase of $50,000.

Other budgeted expenses include $10,000 put aside in reserves for a Fire Department service vehicle to be purchased next year, as well as $20,000 in reserves for cardiac monitors to be bought in two years.

One capital expense reduction, for Bay Park drainage, would drop from $50,000 in fiscal 2013 to $25,000 next year.

Also in the spending plan is a 3 percent contractual raise for employees.

The Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee have both agreed on all the budget items.

Voters will also decide whether to adopt a few ordinances, and whether to accept Serenity Lane, off West Merrill Road, as a public road.

They will also decide whether the town should submit an application for a $240,000 Community Development Block Grant to the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. The application is on behalf of the Maine Harvest Co., which intends to operate at the former Navy Commissary.

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

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.