Bethel Budget Committee proposes higher budget

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BETHEL — The Budget Committee has increased Town Manager Christine Landes’ recommended 2018-19 municipal budget by $50,000.

If approved by voters in June, the $4.21 million spending plan would be 7.57 percent more than this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

The amount to be raised from taxes, including the county and school district assessments, would increase by 7.02 percent. The tax rate would go from $13.50 to $14.68.

Landes said most of the increase is because of capital improvements, police coverage and employee benefit increases.

Her originally $925,000 capital improvements expenditure was $146,100 more than last year and included road improvements totaling $560,000, and equipment, sidewalk projects and work on the Cole Block/Town Office building  totaling $255,000.

But the Budget Committee removed $20,000 of $40,000 proposed for the Cole Block work, and added $70,000 to purchase two cardiac monitors for the Bethel Ambulance Service. The current units are nearly obsolete, Landes said.

The changes made the capital improvements total expenditure $975,000.

The Budget Committee also removed $120 from personnel for Angevine Park.

Most of the road improvements would go toward Chapman Street for wastewater treatment system work, drainage, sidewalks and paving. Also included in capital improvements are funds for reserve accounts for equipment replacements and a property revaluation, with a total of $110,000.

The cost of coverage by the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office is $347,795, compared to $324,500 this fiscal year. Negotiations with the county are still underway, Landes said.

The Employee Benefits Account shows an overall increase to $402,194, from $375,490, largely because of health insurance and retirement-related costs.

Other accounts with increases are local contributions, mostly to local nonprofit groups, with a total of $71,878 compared to $63,050 this fiscal year. The increase would come primarily from a $5,000 request from the Mahoosuc Heart & Soul project, if approved.

Voters will elect officers at the polls from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 12, at Crescent Park School. Selectman Peter Southam and Assessor Bob Everett have filed nomination papers for re-election.

The town meeting will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 13, at Crescent Park School.

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