BUCKSPORT — Increased costs for education and the Fire Department as well as decreased revenues for the transfer station have resulted in a proposed FY 2019 budget with a 5 percent spending increase, according to Town Manager Susan Lessard.
Lessard outlined a proposed budget for the Town Council at a workshop April 5.
She said there is still a question about what the final education budget total will be.
“I have met with Superintendent Jim Boothby and the budget contains his best estimate at this time,” Lessard stated in a budget memo. “That said, the proposed increase is significant — over $400,000.”
On the municipal side, the addition of two full-time firefighters/EMTs has affected the budget. The town did receive a grant, which will help fund $83,000 of the cost of the two additional firefighters for three years, Lessard said. The Bucksport Fire Department also has reorganized its schedule so that two people are on duty each shift instead of one.
The budget also includes purchasing two police cruisers this year.
“Our current program of buying one every other year is resulting in extremely high maintenance and repair costs for the vehicles,” Lessard said. The town of Bucksport encompasses over 56 square miles, 51 square miles of land and four square miles of water bodies. That’s more than 20 miles larger than the city of Bangor, which has 35 square miles of land.
On the revenue side of the budget, Bucksport has lost $79,000 in transfer station revenue thanks to the town of Orland building its own station.
“They [Orland] have also decided to pursue a contract with Hancock County for dispatching service, resulting in another income reduction for us of $11,000,” Lessard said.
While budget numbers are not yet firm, neither Lessard nor the council wants taxpayers to shoulder an increase.
“Before the process started, we made a recommendation to the town manager we’d like to maintain the tax rate as it is today or have it lower,” Town Council Chairman David Keene said Tuesday. “That’s her goal as well as our goal. That’s going to be tough because there’s a substantial increase to the school budget. But we’re working on it.”
Lessard said Bucksport was not finished with valuations for this year “but the plan is for the mill rate to remain the same through the addition of new valuation and, if necessary, use of additional fund balance.”