Don Lagrange, Southwest Harbor town manager, won't know how budget increases will affect property taxes until school and county budgets are set, but he estimates an increase of 10 to 12 cents per thousand dollars of property value. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

SWH budget increases by 1.75 percent

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Voters at the annual town meeting in May will consider a $3.24 million municipal budget that is a 1.75 percent increase from that approved for the current fiscal year.

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

Town Manager Don Lagrange said he wouldn’t know the overall effect the municipal budget would have on property taxes until the budgets for the Pemetic Elementary School, Mount Desert Island High School and Hancock County are fully known. He did provide an estimate, based on what he expects the total budget to be once these other budgets are factored in.

“I expect the mill rate to go up 10 to 12 cents per thousand [dollars of valuation], but that’s just a guess,” he said.

Increases in salaries, the cost of health insurance and 401K contributions are factors across the board. Health insurance costs are up 11 percent.

“The big increase is in 401K contributions,” Lagrange said.

For this year, the town had a $28,000 credit from the retirement plan that was applied to the town’s share of employee’s 401K plans. That was not available this year.

As proposed, administration costs are up $57,800 from this year. For the current budget, $50,618 was taken from surplus to keep the administration budget relatively flat. That tactic was not used this year, Lagrange said.

Police and dispatch services also are up.

The $485,800 budget 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 dispatch department and $13,000 set aside for the possible purchase of the Hook property, Lagrange said.

Revenues are expected to increase by $31,775 to $798,050.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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