FRYEBURG – Town officials will ask residents to spend about $450,000 more this year, mainly to rebuild a road, upgrade the transfer station, increase employees’ salaries and hire a police officer, at their annual meeting March 25.

Because the county and school budgets are not known yet, officials could only say that the municipal operating budget would increase the tax rate, currently $19.80, by 90 cents per $1,000.

The $450,000 represents about an 18.5 percent increase.

The operating budget, if approved, will be about $2.57 million. With capital improvements included, the total budget is about $2.87 million.

At the same time, the value of property, in a long-overdue revaluation, is expected to increase considerably. The prior value of land totaled $198 million, according to Town Manager Phil Covelli. The new value will be closer to $280 million, but the final figure won’t be known for several months.

The last valuation was done in 1988, he said.

Selectmen pointed out that the surplus, spent annually to lower property taxes, has also kept taxes low when they should have been inching up years ago. This year, the plan is to use surplus on capital improvements.

Town employee salaries are increasing because their salaries are lower than employees in comparable towns, Selectman David Knapp explained. “We came up with a salary formula that brought most of our salaries up to an average,” he said.

Selectmen are also hoping residents agree to fix Haleytown Road, which the state Department of Transportation calls the worst road in Fryeburg.

This cost is predicted to be about $606,000, with annual payments of about $59,000 over 20 years. “The need is desperate, the solution painful,” Knapp wrote in a PowerPoint presentation he displayed for the public Thursday afternoon.

Selectmen would also like to spend $160,000 for new equipment and repairs to the transfer station.

Finally, they said after leaving a position vacant on the police force last year, burglaries and criminal mischief have increased in town, especially during the third shift. In 2005, there were 52 complaints, about 30 more than in 2004. Currently, police staff this early morning shift on an on-call basis, Chief Wayne Brooking said.

The salary and insurance of the fifth patrol officer would cost the town $44,347 per year.

Knapp pointed out that the operating budget has only jumped by $65,000 over last year’s operating budget, or the money used to run the town.

“A capital budget allows us to plan for the future,” he wrote in his presentation, “and avoid the pain of unanticipated improvements and acquisitions.”

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