Don Lagrange, town manager of Southwest Harbor. Administrative costs in this year's town budget are $57,800 higher than last year, not because expenditures have risen that much, but because more than $50,000 in surplus funds were used to pay for some of those costs last year, according to Lagrange. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Southwest Harbor town meeting is Monday

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Voters at the annual town meeting Monday are to consider a $3.24 million municipal budget and another $3.57 million for the Pemetic Elementary School.

Those and other matters will be decided from the floor of the open meeting, which is slated to begin at 7 p.m. in the Pemetic school gym. Town elections are Tuesday. Polls are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the fire station.

The proposed $3.24 million for the 2017-2018 municipal budget reflects an increase of $51,754. Significant increases are in the lines for administration, police, dispatch and a capital improvement plan. Offsetting these increases are major drops in the highway department budget and in funds to be transferred from reserve accounts.

The $310,647 for administration costs is $57,800 more than budgeted for the current fiscal year. According to Town Manager Don Lagrange, town officials used $50,618 from surplus funds to keep that line in this year’s proposal relatively flat. That tactic was not used this year.

The $485,800 proposed for the police department is $22,300 or 5 percent higher. Salaries are $14,600 higher; health insurance is an increase of $6,400, and 401K contributions are $9,000 more than for this year.

The $271,260 budget for dispatch reflects a $15,300 increase. Here again, salaries, health insurance and 401K contributions are driving the 6 percent increase. Salaries are up $3,100; health insurance, $7,900, and 401K contributions, $5,200.

Town officials are proposing an increase of $52,700 in funds for a capital improvement plan. The $321,300 total includes an extra $10,000 for recording equipment, security cameras and console modifications for the dispatching department and $13,000 set aside for the possible purchase of the Hook property, according to Lagrange.

The budget includes a total of $34,400 in requests from 12 community service agencies. These range from $1,000 for Hospice of Hancock County to $10,000 for the Island Explorer bus service.

Voters also will consider requests of $55,000 for the Southwest Harbor Public Library, $59,640 for Harbor House youth center and recreation programs and $58,000 for the Southwest Harbor-Tremont Nursing Service.

The $3.57 million budget for the Pemetic Elementary is $102,978 higher than for this year, a 2.97 percent increase.

Like with all schools in the Mount Desert Island Regional School System, salary increases and health insurance costs have gone up. Salaries, as negotiated under a union contract with teachers, have increased an average of 2.65 percent system-wide, according to school officials.

About $39,300 of the increase in the school budget is for administration. Here, the major change is salary and cost of health insurance and other benefits for the principal. Principal Cathy Lewis, who is retiring at the end of the school year, has been working in an 80 percent capacity. An additional $37,119 has been added to cover the switch back to a full-time principal, a step school officials say is more appropriate for a school like Pemetic.

The proposed $1.08 million for regular instruction reflects a decrease of $19,200 due to changes in personnel, school officials said. Teachers’ salaries are based on experience, and health insurance costs vary depending on which plan the employee falls under.

Special education costs have been budgeted at $904,700, an increase of $122,900. Salaries and health insurance for teachers and ed techs are the driving factors here. Some of the extra cost is due to changes in personnel.

The school system has estimated a 10 percent increase in health insurance costs across the board. The actual increase won’t be known until discussions with the insurance company are completed.

The total town budget includes Southwest Harbor’s share of the appropriations for the Hancock County budget and the Mount Desert Island High School budget. The county appropriation is $256,375, an increase of $99,000. The high school appropriation of $1.14 million is up $16,000.

Voters approve the county and high school budgets at separate meetings. The items don’t appear on the town meeting warrant but contribute to the town’s tax burden. Lagrange estimates that property taxes will increase no more than 10 cents per $1,000 of valuation if the budget passes as proposed. As a result, the owner of a $250,000 property would pay an extra $25 in property taxes.



Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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