After years of tight budgeting, the need to keep roads maintained and hire and retain qualified town administrators are cited as factors in a potential 21.54% increase to Nobleboro’s municipal budget.
If approved by voters as drafted, the town will adopt a $1,462,764 budget, an increase of $259,245 from this fiscal year.
The municipal budget and a $4.57 million education budget draft were approved at a Monday, Feb. 6 budget committee meeting following revisions from the school committee removing over $92,000 from its request.
The school committee presented a $4.6 million request for Nobleboro Central School at a Jan. 30 budget committee meeting. The budget committee recommended members cut $100,000 from that figure without pointing to any specific items.
“We didn’t want to nitpick,” Nobleboro Select Board chair Dick Spear said, and let the committee trim funds from where it saw fit.
The school committee held a special meeting on Feb. 2 to revisit the budget, eventually cutting $92,368.57 from the original draft.
“We were unanimous that we went as far as we could go without hindering operations,” school committee member Michael Ward said.
In the municipal budget, however, costs could no longer be held for town administration costs and road maintenance, following years of effort to keep taxes low.
Spear said the town’s comprehensive plan survey completed last year found roads were the biggest concern for residents, and Nobleboro Road Commissioner Dale Wright said maintenance has been sacrificed for years to keep taxes down.
“The roads are suffering terribly, and we can’t keep up,” Wright said.
In addition to deferred maintenance, according to Wright, material costs have risen. Hot top asphalt for road repairs, for example, is so expensive that his increased budget request will cover almost the same amount of road repairs as previous years. His initial request was for another $100,000.
The budget committee recommends using $320,000 in excise tax and $540,000 from surplus this year. The excise use is the same at 2022, and the surplus use has increased by $170,000 or 45.9%.
This additional surplus use will mean a less steep increase in taxes, despite the overall budget increase.
Spear said more surplus is available because the town did not use any last year; the reserve now totals $720,000. The use recommended this year will bring its balance back down to $550,000, where Spear said it typically rests.
If voters approve the budget as proposed, the town will have to raise $246,186 through taxes in 2023, meaning a possible mil rate increase of about 0.8. The exact figure will be available once the county budget is approved, according to Spear.
“It’s not good, but it’s better than I thought it might be,” he said of the increase.
Residents will vote on the school and municipal budgets at the annual secret ballot referendum from 12-6 p.m. on Friday, March 17. The open portion of the meeting begins 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 18 at Nobleboro Central School.