Preliminary municipal budget down slightly

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DIXFIELD — Town Manager Eugene Skibitsky unveiled a proposed municipal budget Monday that’s a few thousand dollars less than this year’s $1.9 million spending plan. The presentation was at a joint meeting of selectmen and the Finance Committee.

“Now we start,” he said Tuesday afternoon.

Selectmen will meet most Mondays at 5 p.m. until May 3 when a final figure is expected to be adopted.

The Finance Committee will also hold several meetings to comb through the figures. Skibitsky said five more people are needed to join with the five Finance Committee members. Anyone wishing to serve is asked to call the town office at 562-8151.

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Residents will have a chance to vote for the Finance Committee recommendation or the selectmen’s recommendation, if they are different, at the annual town meeting set for May 27.

For the second year in a row, most municipal employees will not receive a raise. The town is currently in negotiations with the lone union – it represents the five-person public works department. Those negotiations have gone nowhere in recent months and may be advanced to mediation. The contract expired June 30, 2009.

Skibitsky said the major factor governing the proposed budget is the decrease in state revenue sharing from $365,000 last year, to $227,000 for this year.

Other factors include an anticipated 8 percent hike in health insurance, a 6 percent increase in dental insurance, and a 5 percent jump in workers’ compensation payments.

He said to try to keep a municipal budget down, the Fire Department will reduce its equipment purchases, no one is expected to go to the police academy for the Dixfield Police Department, and the public works department will mow all cemeteries and town lands rather than contract out the work.

“Everything else is flat,” Skibitsky said.

Not included in the municipal budget is the Oxford County tax, which came in nearly 20 percent higher this year than last, at $97,407, or the town’s share of Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10 school taxes. The school taxes will likely be determined in June.

The current tax rate is $16.25 per $1,000 valuation.

eadams@sunjournal.com

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