VASSALBORO — Voters will decide on a proposed $5.6 million combined municipal and school budget Monday at Town Meeting.

The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Vassalboro Community School on Webber Pond Road. Voting for municipal officers and a school budget referendum will take place Tuesday, June 9.

The combined spending plan is about $526,000 larger than last year’s.

The proposed municipal budget is about $1.9 million, while the local share of the school budget is $3.1 million, according to Town Manager Mary Sabins. The town is expecting to pay almost $303,400 to Kennebec County next year.

The town is proposing to use $268,000 from its reserve to offset a tax increase, but the proposed budget calls for $313,483 more in tax dollars than last year’s, Sabins said.

According to estimates from the town assessor, that could result in a property tax rate increase of 85 to 90 cents, Sabin said. The tax rate in 2014 was $12.80 per $1,000 of valuation. If the budget passes as presented, the tax rate could increase to $13.65.


Voters also will decide whether the town should apply for grant money to go toward building a sewer connection between Vassalboro and Winslow and whether to contribute money for a dam removal project on Outlet Stream.

The budget increase is being driven mainly by larger school expenses.

Part of the school increase is a result of contracted wage raises for teachers, health care costs and greater special education and tuition costs, School Committee member Jolene Gamage said. But increases also are being driven by cost shifts from the state, such as funding for Maine State Retirement and a loss of financial aid from the Department of Education, as well as an increase in the amount the district is required to raise locally to support education.

The school committee made lots of cuts, including funding for a new school bus and textbooks, to reduce the budget increase, Gamage said.

“We were very conscious of cutting the budget to the bare bones,” she said.

On the municipal side, the total budget is up almost $179,560 from last year’s total. The increase is driven mostly by the proposed $333,000 paving budget, which is $139,000 more than last year’s. The board has kept paving budgets down in the past few years to limit the effect on the tax rate, but there are projects that need to be worked on this year, Selectman Phil Haines said.


“We’re falling behind,” Haines said. “It’s more effective to do it now, before the roads start to fall apart.”

Voters aren’t happy with the idea of another tax increase, Haines said, but the board has done its best to limit the increase. The selectmen, the Budget Committee and the School Committee went through several rounds of cuts before unanimously putting forward a budget, he added.

“Nobody likes to pay more, but I see it as a good budget just the same,” Haines said.

Residents will vote on a proposal to give $38,000 from the town’s Alewife Restoration Fund to the China Region Lakes Alliance to help fund a project to remove dams on Outlet Stream. A coalition of conservation groups intends to remove or bypass the dams to allow migrating river herring access to China Lake.

According to Sabins, the town’s alewife fund had $42,000 in it this year, and the town takes in an average of $14,000 from its annual alewife harvest that is applied to the fund.

Voters also will decide whether the town should apply for a $1 million Community Development Block Grant to help fund a connection of the Vassalboro and Winslow sewer systems.


In March, the Vassalboro Sanitary District, an independent quasi-municipal agency, approved plans to replace its aging treatment system with the Winslow connection. The project is expected to cost at least $5 million, and the district will need to secure outside funding to pay for the project.

According to Sabins, if the CDBG grant is approved, the money would pass through the town to the Sanitary District to help pay for the project.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

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