CARRABASSETT VALLEY – The budget committee and select board held a joint meeting on Wednesday, January 25, to review and discuss the budget for fiscal year 2023.
The meeting opened at 5:30 p.m. at the Carrabassett Valley Public Library. Town Manager Dave Cota presented a proposed increase of $183,621 over last year’s budget, for a 6.6 percent increase. In addition, in an effort to keep the tax commitment lower, the budget included a proposed expenditure of $41,600 from the town’s portion of the American Rescue Plan Act funds for specific, one-time purchases.
These purchases included the town’s contribution to the county-wide communications center upgrades, equipment for the new fire truck, and improvements at the town park such as shade awnings, refreshing the tennis courts, and restoration on the river. Cota submitted these proposals to the Maine Municipal Association for a legal opinion and received an opinion that the proposed projects would most likely be eligible for ARPA funds.
Other increases and decreases in the budget were discussed.
There is a proposed increase of $20,638 for the communications and security center budget, to increase salaries and help retain officers and dispatch personnel. The fire department requested an increase of $18,300 for increased firefighter payroll and to fund the position change from part-time to full-time fire chief. In other public safety, there is a proposed increase of $16,826 for the NorthStar EMS subsidy. The actual request from NorthStar was for $107,749, but because the town is on a different fiscal year than NorthStar, the town will pay half of last year’s request and half of this year’s request. The current request is similar to the request from several years ago, Cota said.
The Anti Gravity Center requested an increase of $15,144 for increased part-time salaries and electricity costs.
In the past, the funds raised and matched by the town had been enough to fund the junior golf program, but due to a dramatic increase in participation in the program, the request for the Alden MacDonald fund was increased from $0 to $12,000.
The Carrabassett Valley Public Library has added a tech position and increased the part-time payroll, so the budget request increased by $13,307.
The airport reserve account decreased by $10,000 as the town received $31,000 in various ARPA funds to add to the reserve account. These funds will be used towards a runway rehabilitation project in the next three or five years.
Increased costs of recycling and composting pushed the budget from $20,000 to $28,000.
A five-year bond for the 2017 golf course project was paid off in 2022, so the debt service budget decreased by $31,238.
Employee benefits increased by $33,185 due to an increase in workman’s comp insurance along with increases in social security and a new employee enrolling in the town’s health insurance.
The golf course reserve account has a proposed increase of $35,000 for a total of $45,000. This request would be matched by Sugarloaf to more aggressively pursue capital maintenance projects on the golf course.
The recreation endowment fund has a proposed decrease from $50,000 to $40,000 due to the other increases in the budget and the solid position in the reserve account.
The budget committee and select board voted to approve each department budget and the overall budget. The overall municipal budget is $2,945,408 with $589,800 in anticipated revenues, for a net budget of $2,355,608. The 2022 net budget was $2,213,287, resulting in a 6.6 percent increase.
The school budget remains uncertain; the Carrabassett Valley school department is on a differing fiscal year schedule than the town and that budget has not yet been established. The school budget will factor into the total budget and tax commitment.
The town’s assessor is in the process of an in-house revaluation, which is expected to be complete by the time the town commits taxes in July.
The budget will be presented to the town for a vote during the annual town meeting in March.