May 19, 2023

Windham residents to vote on municipal budget on June 17

By Ed Pierce

With all the 2023-2024 budget details having been finalized by the Windham Town Council, town voters attending the Annual Town Meeting next month will now determine if the budget is approved.

Pie charts show where funding in the proposed 2023-2024
Windham Municipal Budget will be directed to. Windham 
residents will be able to vote on the budget during the 
Annual Windham Town Meeting on June 17 at Windham
Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts has proposed an annual town budget for 2023-2024 of $40,418,346, up from the current 2022-2023 budget of $38,227,469. That amounts to a budget increase of 5.7 percent. For a home valued at $400,000 in Windham currently paying taxes of $4,644, under the new budget, taxes would rise to $4,910. That’s about $266.16 more per year or about $22 per month.

Tibbetts said the budget proposal weighs many different factors and influences, including projected lower town revenues, fixed expenses, and two planned town personnel additions. Some of the increase will offset the loss of $700,000 the town incurred by switching over from the Pay As You Throw (PAYT) trash collection system to a new trash cart system this fall.

There is also about $400,000 less coming into the town revenue stemming from a decline in state sales taxes. Overall revenue for Windham is also projected to decline $1.2 million because of rising energy and healthcare costs, contractual obligations, long-term debt and new staff hires.

The town’s long-term debt includes expenses for projects that are offset by grant funding, Tibbetts says. Some of the projects include an expense of $2.052 million for reconfigured sidewalks along Route 202 in South Windham offset by a grant of $1.856 million, an expense of $625,000 for rebuilding the sidewalk on Route 302 at Boody’s Corner offset by a grant of $684,000, and an expense of $751,000 to reconfigure the intersection of River Road and Route 202 offset by a grant of $751,000. Short-Term Debt includes $551,000 set aside for heavy equipment and vehicle purchases including a plow truck, an ambulance, fire department vehicles, fire pumping equipment and training materials and placing $150,000 in an account reserved for future debt.

“Overall, the town’s current total indebtedness (town and schools) is $25,641,000, or .88 percent of the state valuation, so the margin for additional borrowing is $411,474,000,” Tibbetts said. “Bonding Agencies recommend that an average of 12 to 14 percent of the total operating budget as debt service is consistent to addressing infrastructure needs.”

The budget proposal also includes capital equipment investments and some short-term debt for public safety including the purchase of heavy equipment and vehicles such as an ambulance and two fire vehicles. If the budget is approved by voters, Windham would purchase a new snowplow truck and some specialized fire safety equipment including a new fire pump, nozzles, training materials, mechanic specialty equipment, and shelving.

Capital projects funded under the proposed budget include repaving sidewalks in South Windham, reconfiguring the Route 202 Intersection and maintenance paving for Collin Circle, Running Brook Road, and Montgomery Road.

The Windham Police Department also plans to add an additional school resource officer in the coming year and Windham is also expected to hire a new communications director.

Tibbetts says that the town’s TIF district funding is projected to be basically flat for the coming year as revenue from that source is being used for significant infrastructure improvements for the town that have been approved by voters. Those include upcoming projects such as Route 302 access roads to alleviate traffic congestion in North Windham, the North Windham Wastewater Project, and the East Windham Conservation Project.

Members of the Windham Town Council approved the final budget proposal at a meeting on May 9 and also set the Annual Town Meeting to be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 17 at Windham High School. <

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