Media Archive

Milo budget flat for 2003

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 10, March 05, 2003

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

Townspeople to vote on proposal at March 10 annual town meeting

MILO Town employees will not receive a wage increase. There will be no roads paving, and no roads reconstruction.

In a nutshell, that is how Milo Town Manager Jane Jones kept the 2003 municipal budget in check, despite expected revenue shortfalls from the state and increases in fixed costs, such as insurances.

The $1.29 million in expenditures represents a 2 percent ($28,000) decline from last year's budget of $1.32 million.

Meanwhile, revenues are expected to decrease from $690,818 to $675,572. While most revenue sources are on the incline, a dramatic drop in state revenue sharing is expected: Jones budgeted for a drop in that line item from last year's $255,000 to $230,000, almost a 10 percent decrease.

The budget advisory committee gave its unanimous approval to the proposal Feb. 27, Jones said Selectmen are expected to act on it at the boards March 4 meeting.

The budget proposal features flat-funding of most items, Jones said, including wages.

"There are no pay raises for any employees; all wages are frozen," the town manager said.

The proposed budget, if approved at town meeting March 10, she said, would maintain the municipal tax rate at $8.22 per $1,000 valuation. The county and SAD 41 budgets are an unknown, however. Last year, the tax rate including the municipal, county and school figures was $24.85 per $1,000 valuation.

This year, the budget does not account for the transfer of any surplus from the fund balance, Jones said, as there is only $70,381 in that account. That decline is directly attributed to more than $300,000 in back taxes now owed by the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad. The B&A bankruptcy trustee has submitted a petition to reverse the order of secured debtors paid, due to the sale of the B&A's assets to Rail World Inc.

The town is fighting that petition, along with other municipalities in the state. Milo, in addition has an unresolved issue surrounding the B&A tax increment financing district, also to be decided in the bankruptcy court, Jones said.

Jones said that the town's part of the mil rate could drop to $7.50 per $1,000 valuation if the bankruptcy court decides to dissolve the TIP district.

The town manager said that residents will likely be called back for a second town meeting, depending on the outcome of the B&A court proceedings and the outcome of Brownville's annual town meeting March 17. The town of Brownville's vote on its police budget is of interest to Milo, Jones said, because residents may vote to share the expense of a police chief. If that vote is supported, Milo would stand to save $20,000 money that could be used in the budget, elsewhere.

"No matter what happenes, we're going to have to call them back," Jones said.

The budget, as proposed, is as follows:

Administration (town manager) is up slightly, from $46,500 to $47,250. Administration (selectmen) is up, from $20,000 to $36,050 primarily due to legal fees, which are budgeted to increase from $8,250 to $25,000 directly related to the B&A issue, Jones said. Administration (town office) is down, from $86,660 to $82,775.

Administration (elections) is set to increase from $1,000 to $1,600. Records restoration is flat funded at $500. Computer purchases is flat funded at $6,500.

The budget for maintenance of the town hall is rising minimally from $28,995 to $30,495.

Insurances are set to increase from $45,750 to $54,500.

The planning board budget is level at $100. Assessing contract fees are level at $12,300.

The town hall improvements reserve is level at $7,000.

The budget for the police department shows a slight decrease from $117,207 to $116,707. Cruiser purchase is set at $7,500 same as in 2002.

The fire department budget is flat-funded at $48,700. The fire equipment fund is level at $26,00. The fire hydrant rental is level at $93,000.

Street lights budget is even at $27,000.

The budget for Three Rivers Ambulance is stayed at $8,000.

The public health budget is the same as last year $3,200.

Sanitation accounts are slightly down, budgeted at $196,050 compared to 2002's $198,500. Public works is level at $96,100. Winter maintenance is flat-funded at $83,750. Town garage is down slightly, from $11,350 to $7,950. The public works equipment fund is level at $55,500. The paving program is zeroed from last year's $50,000 and town road reconstructtion is zeroed from $5,000. There is no contingency set up this year for the public works department compared to $26.978 last year.

Welfare is budgeted at $6,000, a drop from $9,000.

The public library budget has a slight increase jumping from $26,150 to $27,825. Recreation is flat funded at $27,987, and the Elm Street Field Complex reserve is budgeted level at $8,550. Park development/boat landing is flat-funded at $6,800. The Derby Community Hall budget is level at $890.

The snowmobile contribution is set at $1,322 - down from $1,653.

Employee benefits saw an increase, from $123,565 to $133,435.

Unclassified accounts are up slightly, from $32,050 to $32,800.

Town meeting is set for 7 p.m. March 10 at the Milo Town Hall. Copies of the warrant are available at the Town office.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.