VASSALBORO — Selectmen call it the 35 percent formula, and it’s aimed at making good on a promise to pay more to town employees.

That’s not a 35 percent raise, but rather a raise aimed at eliminating 35 percent of the gap between Vassalboro employee salaries and comparable pay in other towns.

Selectmen have agreed to try to close the gap over the next three years. The draft 2012-13 municipal budget they finished Wednesday evening would raise employee pay by a portion of the gap under the formula.

At a meeting last fall, employees showed the select board that they are underpaid compared to people doing such jobs in similar towns, some by almost 30 percent.

Under the new formula, selectmen recommend a small raise for an employee already paid close to other towns’ rates. For an employee earning 20 or 25 percent less than he or she could make elsewhere, the suggested raise is 7 or 8 percent.

Despite the higher-than-usual proposed salary increases, the draft budget prepared by Town Manager Mary Sabins is lower than the current year’s spending plan.

At the beginning of Wednesday’s meeting, the budget request was about $24,000 less than this year’s budget, Sabins said. Selectmen made several minor adjustments, including adding $10,000 the volunteer fire department requested earlier this month for truck maintenance.

Sabins will prepare a final draft budget incorporating the changes and send a packet to Budget Committee members, who are scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Town Office.

In other business Wednesday evening, selectmen heard a brief presentation on the Kennebec County Hazard Mitigation Plan before unanimously adopting it. Vassalboro is now eligible to apply for emergency management grants to help repair road problems.

At Selectman Lauchlin Titus’ suggestion, the board raised the mileage reimbursement for employees who use personal vehicles for town business from 47 to 51 cents a mile, effective immediately. Titus said federal employees are paid 51 cents a mile.

Board members also approved a new ordinance, the Restricted Vehicle Weight on Posted Roads Ordinance, and a new policy on fund balances.

The fund balance policy commits town officials to keep on hand in unrestricted funds an amount equal to between 10 and 15 percent of the previous fiscal year’s tax commitment. Board Chairman Philip Haines praised the policy, saying the town many years ago had so little money in reserve that it was not considered a good credit risk.

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