DRESDEN — A town budget that is down by $60,000 goes to voters at the Town Meeting Saturday morning.

But town officials warn the reduced municipal spending doesn’t necessarily mean taxes will go down.

That’s because Dresden’s share of the county budget, as well as the Regional School Unit 2 budget, are both up.

And the state budget has not yet been approved and it may or may not include revenue sharing with municipalities.

The town budget of $635,000, down from the current year’s budget of $696,000, includes $85,000 in revenues from state revenue sharing.

However, Gov. Paul LePage’s state budget proposal would suspend state revenue sharing, and the state Legislature has considered budget proposals that would reduce revenue sharing to municipalities.

Thus, if revenue sharing is eliminated or reduced, it could leave a hole in the municipal budget being decided by voters at 9 a.m. Saturday at Pownalborough Hall in the new fire station.

First Selectman Philip Johnston said the town’s tax rate, which won’t be set until the end of August, depends as much on decisions elsewhere as it does on the choices residents make at the Town Meeting. He noted the town doesn’t have many other options for cutting expenses or raising revenues to close the potential budget gap other than property taxes.

“We’re a community that operates very efficiently and very minimally,” Johnston said Thursday. “With a population of only 1,670 people, we don’t have a lot of employees, so there are not a lot of positions we could shed. We still have to plow snow and take care of buildings, and we’re really down to bare bones. So the impact of the decrease in revenues (if revenue sharing is suspended or reduced) and the increase in costs for education, is pretty much dollar for dollar (going to have to come from property taxes). We don’t have anywhere else to go. And we have to balance the budget.”

Among the spending reductions in this year’s proposed municipal budget is a $20,00 decrease for sand, down from $40,000 in the current year, and a $25,000 decrease for roads, down from $75,000.

Johnston said the town still has about a half-shed of sand left over from this year, and officials decided the roads were in good enough condition to reduce the roads budget by $25,000.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]

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