Voters will decide whether the town can spend $50,000 for work on the Leonard Bridge culvert during Whitefield’s Town Meeting on March 17.

Overall, the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, increased by $59,299 compared to last year. The proposal calls for $1,245,322 in municipal spending, a 5 percent change over last year.

The warrant shows $50,000 in unassigned surplus, which would be used to repair a culvert.

“Last year, we took $300,000 from surplus which had accumulated over the past few years,” Selectman Tony Marple said. “We don’t have as much this year.”

The town received an additional $20,000 in excise tax and $40,600 in miscellaneous revenue, Marple said.

Marple said the Select Board and other town officials are considering whether to replace or repair the Leonard Bridge culvert, and since they haven’t decided which approach is best, the board recommends setting money aside.

“It’s going to be expensive, and it could be more than $200,000 to replace,” he said.

According to the warrant, the Select Board and the Budget Committee recommend spending nearly $90,000 for the operation of the Fire Department, an increase of $7,000 from last year. Marple said the fire budget has been flat for a long time, so the increase is likely because of greater expenses over the years.

Voters in the town of more than 2,300 will decide whether to appropriate $6,582 for organizations including the American Red Cross, Spectrum Generations and Maine General Hospice.

Last year, voters had to consider whether the town should spend almost $30,000 on renovations to the Town Office and the fire station. Both articles were approved by a majority.

Other notable items in the budget include an increase of about $40,000 for winter road maintenance and a reduction of nearly $38,000 for summer road maintenance, $20,000 more for salaries and benefits for town officials and an $1,800 drop in the general assistance program.

The increase in salary and benefits results from the town buying commercial insurance for employees rather than coverage from the Affordable Care Act. Marple said the board decided that continuing with the ACA was too risky.

Town officials also will receive a salary increase, if the warrant question is approved, because a market survey showed that they were being paid well below market value, Marple said.

Balloting is scheduled for 4 to 8 p.m. March 16 at the fire station. The Town Meeting is expected to start at 10 a.m. March 17 at Whitefield Elementary School.

“I think we’ll still have a surplus at the end of this coming year,” Marple said.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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