The Windham Town Council has unanimously approved the new fiscal year budget that will, despite a decrease in expenditures, raise property taxes slightly.

The $16,802,027 budget, approved by the council Tuesday, faces its final vote at the annual town meeting June 18. It represents a 2.5 percent decrease from this year’s figure of $17,247,836. According to Finance Director Brian Wolcott, the town is budgeting no money from the state’s municipal revenue sharing for the upcoming fiscal year, down from $325,000 in this fiscal year.

The town is phasing out municipal revenue sharing from the budget, according to Wolcott, because the amount of money the town will receive from the state is not set at the time the budget is calculated. For this reason, the town is adopting a new budget practice in which the town’s fund balance, approved in the winter, is calculated in the budget that spring for the following fiscal year.

The council is looking to levy just under $9.5 million in property taxes in the upcoming fiscal year, increasing the town’s portion of the tax rate to about $4.90 from $4.74 in this fiscal year, according to Town Manger Tony Plante. If the school and county tax rates remain the same, the property tax rate would increase by 16 cents, from $15.15 to $15.31 per $1,000 of assessed property. A taxpayer with a $200,000 home could expect to pay about $32 more in property taxes to the town.

The budget was designed to address inflation and cost-of-living increases for staff, while addressing staffing issues across town services and departments. Plante, in his preliminary budget message, said the town receives complaints about town office and library hours, building permit and inspection turnaround times, as well as day- and night-time fire-rescue responses.

To address these issues, the budget includes the salary for a new police officer, the 27th officer in the department. As well, Fire and Rescue will hire two full-time rescue staff, who will be cross-trained as firefighters and medics.

The public works department is set to receive a new full-time staff person, and in the assessing office, the department will have a new town appraiser and an intern to map the town using Geographic Information Systems.

To address maintenance problems on town-owned land, the parks department will hire a part-time seasonal staff member. As well, $20,000 is allotted in the budget to address issues of deterioration at the skate park on Route 202, which was closed in April due to structural failure.

At the meeting, the council made slight amendments to the budget first proposed by Plante and reviewed by the town’s Finance and Budget Committee.

A new staff member for the Code Enforcement Office was cut from the budget, and estimated expenditures for the new town attorney, Stephen Langsdorf of Preti Flaherty, were increased from $60,000 to $80,0000, for total savings of about $15,000.

David Nadeau, left, addresses the council at Tuesday’s budget meeting. The town budget, if approved by voters, will increase the property tax levy by approximately 1%.


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