March 29, 2024

Windham opens annual budget formulation process

By Ed Pierce

Earlier this month, the Town of Windham launched its annual budget formulation process as Barry Tibbetts, Windham Town Manager, presented his proposal for the 2024-2025 fiscal year during a discussion with the Windham Town Council.

Windham's town manager has proposed a budget for
2024-2025 of $44,557,349, up slightly from the 
2023-2024 budget of $42,430,080, or about a 5 percent
increase. The Windham Town Council will now study
the proposal and take up the issue again at its April 23
The proposal by Tibbetts of $44,557,349 reflects an increase of 5 percent compared to last year’s resident-approved budget of $42,430,080 and now heads to the Town Council’s Finance Committee for further review and revisions.

During a lengthy discussion with councilors at the March 12 Town council meeting, Tibbetts said his budget proposal is calculated based upon many different factors and influences, including slightly increased projected revenues, the town’s general operating budget and fixed expenses, insurance costs, contractual obligations, energy costs, debt expenditures and personnel changes.

New capital projects in the proposed budget include replacing the heating and cooling system at Windham Town Hall, Gravel Road reconditioning, making pedestrian and intersection improvements to the River Road/Route 202 intersection, new sidewalks for South Windham, conducting an analysis for how to turn the current Windham Middle School into a Community Center when it becomes vacant in 2027, solar panels for Town Hall, the new Public Works Laydown Yard, a Gambo Road land acquisition bond, a Smith Cemetery bond, an East Windham Conservation District handicapped accessibility grant, and the projected new North Windham Fire Station.

The proposed budget also continues funding for projects currently under way, including the North Windham Wastewater Treatment System, the North Windham Moves Project creating rear access roads to Route 302, the East Windham Conservation and Recreation Project, installation of new high-tech traffic signals, capital equipment replacement of town vehicles, preliminary engineering for the Northwest Fire Station, and the new sewer connections for Windham Middle School and Windham High School.

Also included in this new budget proposal are the additions of one operations manager, one Windham Police Department patrolman, and four fulltime firefighter/emergency medical technicians.

Tibbetts told councilors that in previous discussions with Windham Fire Chief Brent Libby and other first responders, the need exists for adding more EMTs because calls for emergency service continue to rise and the time spent for EMTs and first responders transporting residents to the hospital and then returning to town to handle additional calls is inefficient.

“One of the outcomes of this budget in working with the fire chief and staff is we can reduce our per diem call staff and keep more staff, centralizing and managing our shifts better and it will help us to be more efficient,” Tibbetts said.

With the new automated trash collection finally expected to begin this fall, Tibbetts says that unused revenues for the trash collection conversion will be applied to offset the expense of the municipal waste curbside collection contract.

Tibbetts said that the town’s Long-Term Debt bond is at $3.7 million for projects that are offset by grant funding. According to Tibbetts, Windham’s Legal Debt Limitation is 15 percent of State Valuation at $2,914,100,000 or $437,115,000. Windham’s current total debt for town and schools is $25,641,000 or about 88 percent of the state valuation, so the town’s margin for additional borrowing is $411,474,000.

Short Term Debt for heavy equipment and vehicles is $915,000 for lease and purchase and includes a trackless sidewalk machine, a 10-wheel plow truck, and a pickup truck.

Under the new budget proposal, Windham will also reserve $250,000 for future debt obligations.

The budget proposal will be reviewed and scrutinized over the next month by the town manager’s office and the Windham Finance Committee. Budget revisions will be presented to the town council at its April 23 meeting.

A public hearing and final budget approval by the Windham Town Council is expected to take place by councilors on May 14 and will be followed by a resident vote on the 2024-2025 budget warrant during the annual Windham Town Meeting on June 15. <

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