NORRIDGEWOCK — Selectmen are proposing a budget for this year that is slightly less than last year, even with a request for a new plow truck.

The proposed $1.73 million budget is a less-than-1-percent decrease from 2011 and includes $150,000 to replace the town’s aging and rusted 1997 International plow and dump truck.

Residents will vote whether to approve the 2012 budget, in addition to a tax increment financing district for a natural gas pipeline developer, at their annual Town Meeting on Monday, March 5.

Polls for election of town officers will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Mill Stream Elementary School.

The town meeting will begin in the gymnasium at 7:30 p.m.

Selectmen and budget committee members are presenting some differing budget line items, including on how to pay for the desired plow truck.

Selectmen would like to raise $150,000, which would add to the highway equipment reserve account’s current balance of $77,000, Town Manager Michelle Flewelling said.

Budget committee members would also like to raise $150,000 for the account, but they are requesting an additional $50,000 to come from the host benefit fees collected from Waste Management.

The town receives the money from the landfill owner for accepting waste from other communities.

In years past, just $20,000 has been deposited into the equipment reserve account, Flewelling said.

This year, though, the town can offset the difference in the total budget because of unspent money, intended for road improvements, that will roll over into this year.

Flewelling said the town’s plow and dump truck, which spreads salt and sand, will likely not pass inspection this year mainly because it is extremely rusted. The life expectancy of the truck is about 10 years, she said, and this one is heading into its 15th year.

Residents will also vote on a tax increment financing district for Kennebec Valley Gas Co., which wants to build a natural gas pipeline through central Maine.

If approved, it would be Norridgewock’s first TIF. The TIF district would allow the town to redirect a percentage of the new property taxes generated by the pipeline back to the developer to help the project’s financing.

The district also would act as a tax shelter, so increased property values wouldn’t result in increased tax commitments. The town could use the percentage of new property taxes it keeps for economic development.

Under the proposed TIF agreement, 80 percent of new property taxes the first 10 years would return to the developer and 20 percent to the towns.

In years 11 through 15, 60 percent would return to the developer and 40 percent to the towns. The developer has said that the TIFs in each town along the line are essential because they would provide the company with a way to meet its debt obligations during the first years when businesses are switching their heating systems to natural gas.

In Norridgewock, the approximately 11 miles of line would probably serve businesses downtown, plus New Balance and the school before heading under the Kennebec River and up U.S. Route 201A to Madison.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368
[email protected]