The Windham Town Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday and decide whether to approve its municipal budget.

The proposed budget, which includes controversial cuts to the fire department and changes to the town’s dispatch operation, will be the subject of debate at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

The proposed $13.8 million municipal budget has been sharply criticized by residents over proposals to cut the deputy fire chief’s position and merge the town’s dispatch operation with a regional communications center. The moves, intended to help close a $1 million budget gap, has sparked intense debate among residents.

“This is the toughest budget cycle we have been through,” Town Manager Tony Plante said on Monday. “It’s not fun for anyone. These are hard choices to make and hard things for people to talk about.”

The proposed municipal budget totals $13,776,208, a decrease of $73,412 from the current budget. If approved, the tax rate would increase by approximately 1.6 percent. The current tax rate is $11.75 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The school budget is $36,943,642. If approved by the school board for RSU 14 on Wednesday, the tax rate will increase another 40 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, Plante said.

One cent will then be added to the tax rate for the county assessment, which is $1,018,613.

Windham officials are expecting a large turnout. Plante said a room near council chambers will have additional seats and a television with a live feed of the council meeting.

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