CLINTON — The Board of Selectmen gave final approval this week to a proposed municipal budget that represents a 9% increase to current spending, and endorsed a Town Meeting warrant that will ask residents to raise funds for town reserve accounts.

The board held a public hearing on the budget Tuesday, and scheduled an informational hearing on the warrant for May, ahead of the June 13 Town Meeting.

The town’s proposed operating budget totals about $3.6 million, including a 4.5% cost-of-living increase for staff members.

“A lot of that really revolved around the increase in costs of everything, the inflation,” Town Manager John Bellino said.

There was some shift this year between budget accounts — the nonprofit funding was down 47% mainly because the town moved money from the Police Athletic League account to Parks & Recreation.

In this year’s warrant, Article 39 would allow town officials to increase the property tax rate beyond the amount set by the state. Residents rejected the article last year, setting the tax rate artificially low, and officials had to use undesignated surplus funds to cover part of the operating budget.


That put a dent in undesignated surplus, Bellino said, and is not a feasible option this year. The undesignated surplus fund now totals $961,000, but at one point last winter was down to $370,000.

“We really want the public to be aware that we’re just not in a financial position to be continuing to take money out of our undesignated fund to pay our bills,” Bellino said. “We can’t afford that.”

The operating budget this year is about $300,000 more than the amount the town can raise with the state’s tax rate. If residents reject the article this year, the cost would be one-third of the current undesignated surplus funds. And if the fund drops like last year, the town could be left with almost nothing in surplus, according to officials.

With the undesignated surplus fund so low, the warrant also asks residents to raise additional money from taxes to fund reserve accounts. In the past, the town has been able to allocate money from undesignated surplus for reserve accounts.

Each reserve account has a separate warrant article, so residents can approve or reject each individually. The total request for all the reserve accounts, including two tied to the capital improvement plan, is more than $560,000. If all budget and reserve articles are approved, the officials anticipate the town will need to raise $1.6 million from taxes, after factoring town revenue.

Each article requesting funding for a reserve account is phrased to say the town will raise the money from taxes and appropriate it to that account, and the town can “exceed the State of Maine municipal property tax limit for this amount.”

That means even if Article 39 were to fail and the town could not raise the tax rate to cover the operating budget, officials could still increase the rate to pay for the reserve accounts.

If, for example, the $3.6 million budget were approved but Article 39 failed, the town would still have to use undesignated surplus to pay the $300,000 gap in funding. But if residents approve the $68,000 for the Rogers Road upgrade reserve account, town officials could increase the tax rate to raise the $68,000.

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