MONMOUTH — Despite selectmen approving a 2011-12 budget Wednesday that would scale back property taxes, residents chided the board for not making even greater cuts.

The budget calls for spending in excess of $2.8 million — about $67,000 more than the current budget.

The lion’s share of the increase can be traced to a 1.5 percent pay increase for 27 employees, higher premiums for health care and other insurances and increases in debt service, said Town Manager Curtis Lunt. The board cut funding for capital improvement projects and other areas to help offset the increases.

With a projected $30,000 increase in state revenue and an increase in tax revenues from new construction, the property tax rate is expected to drop as a result of the budget, Lunt said. The owner of a $100,000 home would pay about $2 less in the next fiscal year if there were no other considerations, but Lunt cautioned that rate does not include funding for Regional School Unit 2 or Kennebec County.

Residents at last week’s public hearing came prepared with a handout of suggested budget cuts they said could save the town nearly $100,000 with what they said would be virtually no impact on town services. The group urged the board to look for savings in myriad areas such as code enforcement, fire and police departments, and public works.

Residents also urged the board to do a cost-benefit analysis for the town’s membership in the Maine Municipal Association, Kennebec Valley Council of Governments and the Western Kennebec Economic Development Alliance.

“Why do we have two services doing the same thing?” Selectman Colleen Fournier asked.

Lunt, referencing a letter provider by KVCOG, said the organizations provided $25,000 in value to the town last year in services, grant leveraging and group buying power.

“They do a lot for us,” Lunt said. “It may vary from year to year.”

But resident Ray Simond said that number was inflated. He said that while KVCOG saved the town about $1,513 on purchases of salt, the town spent $6,000 for membership.

“That saved us 25 percent of our fee to them,” Simond said.

Selectman Tim McDonald, who sits on the WKEDA board, argued that his agency not only helps the town develop business but provides services, such as drafting an ordinance for creating tax-increment financing schemes.

KVCOG, McDonald said, charges the town additional fees for such services.

Fournier made a motion to defund WKEDA, but it died for lack of a second. She subsequently proved the lone vote against the overall budget.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

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