Winter puts a pinch on Harrison budget

HARRISON — The winter of 2014 took a big toll on Harrison’s municipal budget.

Town Manager Bud Finch told selectmen last week that the current fiscal year continues to put a strain on budgets as the town finally moves into spring.

“As if the almost double the ‘plowable’ snowstorms were not enough, we are now heavy into the pothole and mud season.  With the larger than normal snow coverage for the time of year, warmer weather and rains, we are facing concerns of washouts to go along with the already bad muddy roads situation,” Finch said. “This will all add to extended cleanup when the snow is finally gone.”

To offset the above budget costs this winter has caused, selectmen authorized the winter expenses to be moved from operational funding to capital roads funding where funds remain. This allows the town to fund the over-expense without impacting other municipal departments or the need to have a special town meeting, Finch said.

Budget done: The Budget Committee has completed their work on the budget with their approval of Draft #8 dated April 9. The draft budget will be presented at the Thursday, April 24 selectmen’s meeting/workshop with the Budget Committee for reconciliation and public hearing.

“We have done what we can to hold the line on taxes, but have not been able to reach the goal we have been working toward. although it is possible once valuation and revenues are better known,” Finch reported. “We are currently at $11, up $.30 or 2.7% over the $10.70 mill rate for the current fiscal year.”

Out of the $162,240 increase in the total budget, $132,076 or 81% is due to the increased cost of education, Finch pointed out. The remaining $30K is split up between county taxes, municipal operations and capital and Reserve.

“While this is still a draft number, the impact of a $.30 mill rate increase on $100,000 valuation would be $30. As will be explained as we proceed to town meeting, we have done what we can on the municipal operations side of the budget to hold the line on taxes,” Finch said. “We have done so up until now without reducing services or personnel, but to make any greater cuts on the municipal side of services would require us to do so.”

In other board news, selectmen continued their work on upgrading policies and procedures into electronic format. Review of policies dealing with fee schedule, winter sand, municipal purchasing, street name change, tax payment and public participation at board meetings was covered in this workshop.

The upgrading covers the formatting of policies passed over the years and, with few exceptions, does not make significant changes.

Next board meeting is Thursday, April 24 at 7 p.m.


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