Rumford department heads seek $7.2 million budget

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RUMFORD — For the second straight night, selectmen at Thursday’s public hearing listened to municipal department heads present budget requests for fiscal year 2010-11.

After the three-hour meeting, Town Manager Carlo Puiia said proposed municipal requests total $7.2 million.

This doesn’t include initiated article requests, which will be presented to the board on Monday, March 15, and Monday, March 22, in Rumford Falls Auditorium. It also doesn’t include the school and county assessments.

Puiia said the bottom line of $7,209,917 represents a less than 1-percent increase over last year’s approved budget of $7,155,715.

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The increase of $54,202 is mostly driven by a negotiated 3 percent wage increase with the police union and the 2 percent wage hike that selectmen gave this month to nonunion municipal employees, Puiia said.

The $7.2 million proposed municipal budget is what selectmen will now be tasked with reviewing line by line at their budget workshop at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 23.

“This is not what you’re recommending,” Puiia stressed to Selectmen Chairman Brad Adley and Selectmen Greg Buccina and Jeff Sterling of the $7.2 million figure.

“You may increase or decrease what lines you feel are appropriate when you go to your workshop, and then vote (on Thursday, March 25) to approve budgets at what level.”

Selectman Frank DiConzo, who is on medical leave, was absent. Due to a prior commitment, Selectman Mark Belanger left with 45 minutes remaining.

Proposed budgets include:

• $749,537 for general government, which is $40,771 less than last year’s budget of $790,308.

• $2,191,548 for public safety, an increase of $90,896 from last year’s $2,100,652.

• $680,063 for the health department, down $277 from last year’s $880,340.

• $1,381,367 for public works, down $51,603 from last year’s $1,432,970.

• $54,366, an increase of $2,006 from last year’s $52,360.

• $70,021 for welfare, down $949 from last year’s $70,970.

• $450,670 for public service, down $10,592 from last year’s $461,262.

• $341,045 for debt service, down $$7,358 from last year’s $348,403.

• $277,000 for capital accounts, up $50,000 from last year’s $227,000.

• $1,014,300 for the unclassified account, up $22,850 from last year’s $991,450.

As proposed, the $7.2 million budget minus initiated articles is lower than the LD 1 property tax cap by $335,431.

Good news this year, Puiia said, is that Rumford is already receiving more revenue sharing than it did for last year’s budget.

Additionally, starting in July, the town will realize school assessment payments reduced monthly by $17,546.23 through June 2012, thanks to a carryover of $526,387 from the former SAD 43 2008-09 school budget.

“The school has also recognized our reduction in valuation, which, depending on their budgets, should result in a lower assessment,” Puiia said.

Rather than try and cram final work on the proposed budget for the selectmen’s recommendation on Thursday, March 25, the board will split the work over two days, starting Wednesday, March 24.

That was decided at Thursday night’s meeting after Chairman Adley and Buccina said last year’s decision came after a nearly six-hour meeting that ended shortly before midnight.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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