LISBON — Town Manager Diane Barnes announced to the Town Council on Tuesday night that the proposed municipal budget for the next fiscal year represents an 8-cent increase in the tax rate.

The 2017-18 spending plan of $8.81 million is $196,554 more than this year.

At the beginning of the budget process, the town estimated a 19.2 percent increase  in the budget; it’s now down to 2.8 percent. 

The lower figure is because of items being deferred for future years, paying one-time expenses through the unassigned fund balance and some “sheer changes in our budget,” Barnes told the council.

“We will pick up some new value and there will be other factors involved before commitment, but just the municipal side alone, it’s an 8-cent increase,” Barnes said. “I think that’s remarkable compared from where we started.”

One factor that can affect the budget is the Community Oriented Policing grant that the council authorized Police Chief Marc Hagan to apply for during Tuesday’s meeting.

The COPS program addresses the need for public safety through community policing. The funding allows towns to hire officers to increase their policing capacity and crime-prevention efforts.

If accepted, the COPS program will allow the town to hire an additional law enforcement officer. The U.S. Department of Justice will pay for 75 percent of the funding for the new officer for three years.

“Our lack of personnel is a continued hindrance for us,” Hagan said. “This is an opportunity to get out and provide the appropriate level of service to the town of Lisbon.”

Hagan also mentioned safety, cost savings and having proactive law officers as reasons for an additional person.

Lisbon officers have added responsibilities, Hagan said, including regular weekly additional details and performing callbacks on any complaints they receive.

There are 12 full-time officers and the department uses more overtime pay when one officer is sick or on vacation.

“This would be an opportunity to save some money,” Hagan said. “If we had the additional person, we could move their shift around and we wouldn’t constantly be filling it with overtime.”

Normally, the average cost to the town for an extra officer is $65,245. The acceptance of the grant would lower this cost to $23,578.

The money would be split: half of it added to the budget for 2017-18 and half added for the next fiscal year.

In other business:

• Excavation for the new playground at MTM Community Center will take place Saturday morning. “We plan to have the playground in place the evening of July 5,” Parks and Recreation Director Mark Stevens said.

• The council voted 7-0 to have Public Works Director Ryan Leighton contact the Maine Department of Transportation to remove the Edgecomb Road bridge connecting Lisbon and Topsham. Topsham already discontinued its side. “It’s really deteriorating,” former Chairman Roger Bickford said.

• A council workshop with Lisbon Emergency has been set for 6 p.m. July 18 at the Town Office.

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