WINSLOW — If the Town Council approves the proposed budget May 13, the property tax rate in Winslow will remain flat for the fourth straight year. Town Manager Mike Heavener said the tax rate, at $15.50 per $1,000 of assessed value and first set in 2009, was achieved by cutting office staff and road repairs as well as tapping into the town’s surplus funds.

The savings from those measures will be offset by increases in fixed health-care costs and increased property tax assessments from Kennebec County and Alternative Organizational Structure 92, which includes Winslow High School. If the budget is approved, municipal spending will decrease by $104,646, to $7,171,617.

The council voted in favor of the budget after a first reading April 8. It plans to take a final vote on the budget during its regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. on May 13. A public hearing will be held at the beginning of the meeting.

In the budget proposal, the town’s capital improvement expenditures, which fund road improvements and repairs, were decreased from $425,000 to $200,000, Heavener said. He said a street renovation
project on Taylor Road will proceed as planned this summer, but that the loss will be felt in 2014, when the lower funding levels will reduce the number of future projects.

Heavener said the town might be forced to borrow money in future years in order to gain back the lost ground. “We do recognize it’s possible in the future we might have to go to bond to bring our roads up to the standards that they should be,” he said.

The town also achieved savings by eliminating one of three full-time office positions. Heavener said no one will be laid off, but that a recent vacancy in the front office, which processes vehicle registrations and the collection of fees and taxes, will not be filled. An assessing clerk will provide support to that office, Heavener said.

The local share for education will increase by $291,762, largely because of decreased tuition revenue and a reduction in state funding. The town also expects an increase of about $10,000 in the tax it must pay Kennebec County.

Gov. Paul LePage has proposed eliminating state revenue sharing to towns, which Heavener said would cost Winslow $597,214. The level of state funding will not be determined until the Legislature adopts a budget, which probably will happen in June. Heavener said that, if the town lost a significant amount of state revenue sharing, the council probably would amend the budget to increase
property taxes. “I couldn’t let enough people go to cover that cost,” he said.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling – 861-9287
[email protected]
 

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