Lisbon town, school budgets facing cuts

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LISBON — Town Manager Steve Eldridge and school Superintendent Richard Green updated the Town Council on town and school budgets in separate presentations Tuesday night. Both face losses in revenues and are working toward reducing their budgets while maintaining services.

Eldridge said the town’s spending and tax rates have changed little since 2000. The tax rate was $22.50 in 2000 and $25.50 in 2009-2010.

He said he had made 30 cuts in staff, but the town is still looking at a $393,000 shortfall in the municipal budget. More than $388,000 in the budget are costs that the town has no control over such as insurance, he said. The town is losing $363,441 in state revenue sharing and the county tax is going up.

Between 2005 and 2010 the municipal staff has been reduced by 14 percent through attrition. Eldridge presented several options aimed at cutting costs, such as reducing the hours at the solid waste facility by one day, Town Office hours by one day, and by reducing library hours.

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Eldridge said his tentative budget of $7.27 million is up by $523,248, a 7 percent hike. He noted that the town will be negotiating with all four labor unions this year.

On the school side, Green said his primary goal is to maintain all programming. He said he believes there is some negotiating room under contracted services. Administrators are exploring options, including the consolidation of some services and using existing resources, “but as you can see, our work is far from complete and the potential impact continues to be very difficult to imagine.”

Areas with increases include adult education, facilities and grounds, and gifted and talented instruction, among other things. The tentative school budget is $13.9 million, of which the local share is $5.2 million, up $281,399 from last year. The total budget represents a decrease of 2.2 percent. He said a total of $1.1 million in cuts had already been made.

The School Department faces a possible reduction of $688,235 in state subsidy, which is subject to change, Green said.

In January, the Lisbon Education Association was notified of the possibility of the reduction of 30 positions in grades K-8 staff (3); K-8 education technicians (eight); grades 7-12 staff (7½); student services (3); Visual and Performing Arts/Foreign Language (5); unspecified numbers in grades 7-12 education technicians; and custodian/maintenance staff.

Both the town manager and the superintendent are expected to be at the next council meeting with further updates.

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