SABATTUS — The town has included funds for a new school resource officer, repair work on Williams Road and more staff at Public Works in the budget going before voters at town meeting Thursday.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Community Room in the Town Office.

Town Manager Tony Ward said selectmen have proposed a $2.71 million operations budget, up 5.35 percent from last year.

The proposed capital improvement budget is $628,985, up 20 percent over last year.

Some of those expenses are offset by using $225,000 from the town’s undesignated fund balance, or rainy day fund, Ward said, and projected additional revenue next year of $73,970.

The tax rate is $17.75. Ward said it’s difficult to predict, but he estimates adopting the operations and capital improvement budgets, as proposed, coupled with the school and county budgets, plus overlay, would raise the tax rate between 20 and 50 cents.

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The Police Department’s budget is up $23,000 to $508,748 to cover the cost of adding a school resource officer position funded 25 percent by the town, 75 percent by Regional School Unit 4.

Ward said the officer would cover all the schools in the district.

“You look at what is going on in society right now, you should realize the importance of having an officer in there,” he said.

The person in that position would be a familiar face for kids and parents and hopefully in getting to know the community, would “identify problems before they happen,” Ward said.

The Fire Department budget includes a 2.5 percent raise for all officers. Selectmen additionally supported adding $4,000 to boost the payments for on-call responses. The Budget Committee didn’t support that $4,000.

In Public Works, the Budget Committee proposed hiring two new part-time workers to serve as plow truck drivers as needed. Selectmen proposed instead spending $58,000 more to create a full-time position that would have a supervisory role and drive a plow.

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The operations budget includes $30,000 for raises that would be mostly merit-based, Ward said. The average employee raise would be 2.8 percent. That budget line had been cut in the current fiscal year to $10,000.

Rewarding good work will help retain good employees, he said. 

The town’s workers’ compensation costs have increased $19,000, or 47.5 percent, after one claim this year. Ward said the on-the-job injury involved an accident with substantial medical treatment.

The dispatch and E911 budget is up just over $11,000 to $65,830 to cover the new antenna rental costs.

Ward said the town continues to explore the option of building its own tower but so far initial project estimates have ranged from $350,000 to $450,000.

Selectmen support raising $10,000 to finish the gazebo project in front of the Town Office; the Budget Committee dosesn’t.

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Ward said when the town first raised $5,000 to start the project, volunteers were going to raise the rest.

“That has not progressed at the speed we’d like,” he said, and selectmen would like to see it done.

The gazebo would serve as a spot for live music and community events.

Residents will be asked to make the first of five bond payments to fix the 1.4-mile Williams Road.

“It’s been a road that has been ignored for decades,” Ward said.

Lastly, residents are being asked to approve the creation of zoning for the first time.

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“We think it’s going to help with economic growth here,” Ward said.

Anything operating now that wouldn’t be allowed in a newly created zone will be grandfathered.

kskelton@sunjournal.com

Sabattus residents will vote on a budget that includes bonding up to $360,000 to repair Williams Road at town meeting on Thursday. (Kathryn Skelton/Sun Journal)


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