TOPSHAM — The draft municipal budget for fiscal 2011 shows a 1.2 percent increase over the current amount, Town Manager Jim Ashe said last week.

Preliminary numbers reflect an increase of nearly $200,000 from the current $16.7 million budget to $16.9 next year.

Capital requests are up from $369,000 in fiscal 2010 to a proposed $630,500 for fiscal 2011, a difference of $261,500. That line includes $123,000 for the first phase of the Bay Park drainage improvement project, $140,000 for a plow truck, $200,000 for road reconstruction, $52,000 for two police cruisers and $30,000 toward the purchase of an ambulance.

With the increase in capital expenses being more than the increase in the overall budget, Ashe said, “You can see that I’ve really cut most every other department. … We just nickeled and dimed every department to get (the budget) down.”

He praised the fact that employees of the operations, supervisory and police unions agreed to extend their contracts another year, postponing any salary increases.

“What they were getting for a raise next year, they’ll look for the year after,” Ashe said. “… They’re using this year’s salary scale again next year.”

Ashe said he has not proposed that any positions be eliminated.

Revenue loss presents a significant challenge in Topsham, as it does with many Maine municipalities. Ashe said overall revenue could sink from $3.3 million in fiscal 2010 to a potential $3.1 million next year. He said he found about $80,000 in reserves to help offset the $200,000 shortfall.

Ashe noted that his revenue estimate for next year is “very tentative.”

The current mill rate is $13.80 per $1,000 of property tax valuation. Ashe said that with revenue estimates difficult to pinpoint at this time, it is too early at this point in the budget process to determine what the tax impact in fiscal 2011 could be.

The Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee will continue to review the draft budget in public meetings. A public hearing will be held on the budget in April, followed by a selectmen vote to forward the budget to the May Town Meeting warrant.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or [email protected]

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