LITCHFIELD — The town’s roads have been neglected for a number of years. Getting them back in shape will not be easy or cheap.

That was the message delivered by selectmen and members of the road advisory committee Tuesday night during a public forum to discuss a $2.4 million town budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year that is up $520,000 over this year’s total, largely because of a request for an additional $400,000 for road repair.

“We have a problem,” Richard Lane, chairman of the road advisory committee, told the roughly 20 people who gathered at the Town Office for the meeting. “There are no easy solutions. However, we need to get working on them.”

The proposed budget would increase property taxes from the current tax rate of $13.25 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation to about $14.75. That means a person who owns a $100,000 home would see his or her annual taxes jump from $1,325 to $1,475.

That figure does not include the Regional School Unit 4 budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year, which is up $705,000 to nearly $19 million. Litchfield’s share of that budget would be $3.6 million, or $451,000 more than this year.

The combined proposals of the town and school would increase spending by nearly $1 million, driving the tax rate to about $15.75, or $1,575 for a $100,000 home.

A public meeting and vote on the school budget is set for 6:30 tonight at Oak Hill High School at 55 School Road in Wales. Litchfield selectmen urged residents to attend the meeting.

The budget that emerges from that meeting will either be ratified or rejected during daylong voting scheduled for Tuesday.

Litchfield’s budget will be set during the Town Meeting, set for 10 a.m. June 13 at the Litchfield Sportsman’s Club.

About 18 miles of the 29 miles of roads the town maintains are in need of either routine or preventive care, which means everything from shoulder work and crack sealing to shim paving and ditch and culvert maintenance, Lane said. The remaining roads needs major overhauls, including additional gravel and pavement to additional culverts and base excavation.

Lane said his committee, which has studied the roads for the past year, has come up with a 10-year plan to spend $7 million to improve all the roads to a point that they would require only routine maintenance. With that in mind, selectmen have asked for an additional $400,000 this year, to go with the $210,000 voters have agreed to raise each of the last few years, to begin the major upgrading. Lane said much of the money will be spent on engineering plans for the roads so town officials have a more informed estimate of what it will cost to fix them.

Lane said residents have tried to save money over a number of years by neglecting to keep up the roads.

“This is an honest estimate,” he said. “It’s not a gold-plated one. This is a 10-year plan to make the roads manageable.”

Simply repaving the roads is only a short-term solution, Public Works Director Lawrence Nadeau said. Thorofare Road, for example, was paved just three years ago and is already as rough as it was before, he said.

“No one has ever fixed these roads right,” Nadeau said. “They were wagon trails. If we keep doing the same thing, there aren’t going to be any roads left. Our budget can’t inflate fast enough to get us where we need to be. If you want roads that are worse and worse, don’t vote any money.”

Resident Bruce Doyle said the increase will be unpalatable for voters. He suggested taking advantage of low petroleum prices, which has lessened the cost of blacktop, and low interest rates and borrowing the money.

“This is going to get voted down,” Doyle said.

But asking voters to borrow money without knowing exactly how much is needed, or exactly how it will be spent, is unrealistic, Nadeau said. By raising the $600,000 to have engineering work done, the town will know both figures and, at that point, might decided to seek a loan.

“We don’t know the exact cost until we get the engineering done,” he said.

Keith Nuzzo said if the town and school budgets pass as presented, his property taxes will have increased 40 percent over the past two years. That kind of an increase will be too much for voters to accept, Nuzzo said.

“I don’t care if the roads turn to dirt. They’re not going to buy a 40 percent increase in their taxes,” he said. “They can’t afford that.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

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Twitter: @CraigCrosby4