GORHAM – Town Manager David Cole proposed a municipal budget to the Town Council on Tuesday night that would likely freeze town employees’ wages and reduce programs and services.

Cole submitted an $11.5 million budget for the year that starts July 1. That’s 1.2 percent less than this fiscal year’s budget.

If councilors approve the budget as written, he said, the municipal portion of Gorham’s tax rate will fall by 1 cent, to $4.56 per $1,000 assessed valuation.

Cole told councilors that there would be no wage increases, and that some services could be cut.

He said before the meeting that town officials cut some positions last year from full-time to part-time to help offset declining revenue.

There would be no layoffs under his proposed budget. He said a vacant assistant planner’s position would be eliminated.

Budget workshops will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday and 7 p.m. Tuesday at the municipal building. The council is expected to vote on the budget June 1.

Also Tuesday, town councilors voted 6-1 in favor of sending a $3 million bond for road improvements to voters in June. Councilor Phillip Csoros opposed the bond referendum.

Councilors debated the need for road repairs and the cost to make significant improvements without burdening taxpayers.

Councilor Burleigh Loveitt questioned whether $3 million would be enough to repair many of the town’s aging roads. Councilor D. Brenda Caldwell asked how many streets would be repaired with $3 million.

“We could address the next two roads on our list,” Cole said. “If we get an attractive bid, we could do more.”

Cole said before the meeting that if voters approve the $3 million bond referendum, residents will see a 4- to 5-cent tax increase in 2010-11.

Several councilors mentioned a $3 million bond that voters approved a couple of years ago. Csoros raised concerns about the amount of debt the town has accrued over the last several years.

“To have to borrow every three years for what is routine maintenance doesn’t show the kind of foresight the council should be known for,” Csoros said. “It will take a third $3 million to cover the debt on the first two. I am not in favor of the $3 million bond at this point.”

Loveitt amended the proposed bond initiative to $6 million. Councilor Matthew J. Robinson second the motion, but it lacked further support.

“It’s a lot of money to put on the taxpayers,” said council Chairman Michael J. Phinney. “It worries me.”

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]