Columbia Town Administrator Jonathan Luiz revealed his proposed 2012-13 general government budget at the Board of Selectmen’s regular meeting Feb. 7.
At $19.4 million, it is a 15.33 percent increase – or $ 2.57 million more than this year’s $16.83 million budget.
Luiz said this year, property taxes were affected “significantly” by the Grand List, which dropped 13.19 percent.
He also said the proposed 2012-13 budget includes funds for upcoming capital projects.
He said $1.16 million is allocated for capital projects next year, including approximately $265,000 for road resurfacing and $1.8 million to be used for replacing the roof on Horace W. Porter Elementary School.
The funding for the elementary school roof will come from the town’s fund balance, which has approximately $3 million in it, Luiz said.
“Can we afford to do that?” asked Deputy Selectmen Richard Szegda.
Luiz said he thought there still would be a healthy fund balance.
Other expensive capital projects include $261,000 for public works equipment and $287,400 for preliminary work on the town’s library project, which has not yet gone to referendum.
Selectmen discussed altering the funding for youth services in Columbia – Szegda said he feels it isn’t enough. The town has been considering increasing youth services, he said.
Selectmen agreed to increase the line item from $17,082 to $36,944.
Open-space funding was also discussed.
Luiz said he did not put open-space funding in the budget because the town has a “pending deal.”
“It’s best to get that done, then put it in,” he said.
Another category that was reviewed was legal expenses. The current 2012-13 budget allocates $65,000 and Luiz said the town will likely spend “every penny”.
Szegda said he wants to review legal expenses at the end of the 2012- 13 budget process to see if the town “got a good deal last year on legal representation.”
Selectmen will continue to review the proposed budget and after making any adjustments will send it to the town’s Financial Planning and Allocation Commission (FIPAC).
FIPAC will make its review and possibly make adjustments before the budget is presented to voters at a town meeting on May 8, 2012.
The Board of Education has not yet finalized its budget.
Posted Feb. 10, 2012 as edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan
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