TOPSHAM — The municipal budget, which goes to a public vote in May, could rise to $8.5 million next year, a 4.8 percent increase.

The fiscal 2014 budget, including elements like the town’s assessment from School Administrative District 75 and Sagadahoc County costs – estimated to be $7.8 million and $1.4 million, respectively – could reach $19.2 million.

If the school and county numbers and town valuation remain the same, Topsham’s tax rate could increase from the current $16.21 per $1,000 of property valuation to $16.71, a 50-cent, or 3 percent, hike. For an average home in Topsham assessed at $184,200, the increase could mean a $92 annual tax bill hike.

Capital expenses contributing to the municipal budget increase include the $200,000 purchase of a new Public Works sweeper vehicle, replacing one more than 20 years old. Paving costs are up to $325,000, a $50,000 increase. Other budgeted expenses include $10,000 set aside in reserves for a Fire Department service vehicle to be purchased next year, and $20,000 in reserves for cardiac monitors to be bought in two years.

Bay Park drainage is one capital expense reduction, proposed to drop from $50,000 in fiscal 2013 to $25,000 next year.

Also budgeted into the fiscal 2014 spending plan are 3 percent contractual raises for employees.

Both the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee have agreed on all the budget line items, Town Manager Cornell Knight said last week.

The board is expected to vote April 11 on the budget and other warrant articles, to send them to the May 15 Town Meeting.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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