|Windham residents will be asked to approve or reject a|
proposed town budget of more than $37 million during the
annual town meeting, scheduled for June 18.
PHOTO BY ED PIERCE
After two years of enjoying a flat taxation rate, residents of Windham will be asked to OK about a 6 percent tax increase for the coming year after members of the Windham Town Council unanimously approved a proposed budget of $37,238,051.
Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts reviewed the detailed budget proposal with town councilors during the meeting and explained that three specific items are responsible for the proposed increase and cited fixed cost increases resulting from inflation for electricity, fuel and municipal contractual obligations such as health care and dental care; the proposed addition of six firefighters/rescue personnel; and capital operational expenses such as bonding, several personnel additions and equipment leases as the basis for the possible tax increase. Residents will vote to approve or reject the proposed budget during Windham’s Annual Town Meeting on June 18.
Tibbetts told councilors that three significant improvements including the North Windham Wastewater Treatment Facility, the North Windham Mobility Project of creating access roads to alleviate traffic congestion along Route 302 in North Windham and conserving up to 750 acres for the East Windham Conservation Project will be covered by grants, TIFS, and town impact fees.
“It’s important to say that no residential monies are going into the access roads and because of a major grant from the state, there will be no tax hit for residents on the wastewater treatment facility,” Tibbetts said. “As far as the open space preservation in East Windham, that will be taken care of by impact fees.”
Other capital projects Tibbetts mentioned in his budget presentation for the coming year were for the Windham Municipal Building NW Fire Station preliminary engineering; sidewalks in South Windham along Route 202, installing smart traffic lights in the town, and Police and Fire Department renovations/additions and capital equipment.
The proposed budgets for RSU 14 and Cumberland County also show increases with the school district seeking a 4.34 percent increase and the county proposing a 4.18 percent hike from a year ago.
According to Tibbetts, Windham’s town revenues are up $1.5 million with Excise taxes, building permits and other revenues expected to be flat or down. He said revenue sharing by the state is expected to be about $2.5 million down from an earlier state projection of $2.7 million.
“This proposed budget addresses budgetary modifications, long term capital project investments, local access roads, the North Windham Wastewater Treatment System, the Open Space East Windham Conservation Project, manpower additions and adjustments and capital equipment investments,” Tibbetts said.
The proposed budget was reduced by $500,000 on the capital side from a draft that town manager shared with councilors in March.
As far as long- and short-term bond debt for the town goes, Tibbetts shared this information with councilors:
Local Access Road (TIF 10 percent, Town, 10 percent, State/Federal 80 percent)
Open Space (East Windham Conservation Project and abutting land, Offset by impact fees)
South Windham Village Center, Route 202 Sidewalks, (Pacts 50/50)
Route 302 Sidewalk, Boody’s Corner, Pacts 50/50 Greater Portland Council of Governments)
Trash containers, (General Fund)
River Rd/Route 202 intersection, (MPI 50/50 MDOT)
NW Wastewater with PWD and SRF program via TIF/GF Short-Term Debt (heavy equipment and vehicles (TIF)
Plow truck, ambulance, ACO truck, crime lab truck, fire crew cab 1/2 pickup truck, fire vehicle and two pick-up trucks), CPR compression units, $850,000 General Fund.
“A lot of work went into this, and I hope the public grasps what we’re doing,” said Windham Town Council Chair Jarrod Maxfield. “I hope folks see they’re getting something for it. We are getting something out of this. It’s an investment for the future of Windham.” <