NEW GLOUCESTER — Selectmen on Monday night gave Town Manager Sumner Field III eight recommendations for developing a budget for 2011-12.

“Department heads were told to keep their budgets flat. They all understand and are all trying to do more with less,” Field said.

The recommendations are:

* No overall increases in municipal accounts that can be controlled.

* No increases in staff pay.

* No automatic cost-of-living increase.

* No merit pay raises above 2 percent.

* A critical look at equipment replacement schedules.

* Finding creative opportunities.

* Applications for grants.

* No excessive use of undesignated fund balances.

Field acknowledged that increases in fuel and insurance costs make the budget process challenging. He said health insurance increases total 9.5 percent as of Jan. 1, and the cost of oil is expected to reach $100 a barrel this year.

Combined heating oil, gasoline and diesel costs will increase about $1 to $1.50 more per gallon than the town currently pays, with a $20,000 to $30,000 increase.

Since Jan. 1, employees pay 4.2 percent instead of 6.2 percent for Social Security tax. The town continues at the 6.2 percent rate.

In an overview to the five-member board, Field said pressure on municipalities from the state are expected due to reductions in revenue sharing, business equipment tax exemption reimbursements, Homestead Exemptions and responsibilities for roads formally designated as state roads.

“New Gloucester will need to do more with less or find a way to increase revenues, most likely through taxation,” he said.

Selectmen will finalize the budget, which is reviewed by an appointed Budget Committee, before it’s sent to voters in May.

In other business, the board endorsed an application for a Community Development Block Grant to develop an Upper Village master plan. Town Planner Paul First and members of the town’s Land Management Planning Committee will seek the $25,000 grant, which requires a cash match of $5,000 and $5,000 for in-kind match for staff services.

Three master plan options from an Upper Village workshop and from engineering studies will be incorporated, if the town is awarded the money.

The $5,000 cash match will come from Pineland tax increment financing funds.


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