WINDHAM — The coronavirus pandemic has necessitated a $712,396 cut in projected revenues for next year’s town budget, Town Manager Barry Tibbetts told councilors Tuesday in presenting his $34 million budget proposal.

His proposal is up $231,973 from the current fiscal year’s. The municipal tax rate will remain as same as this years, but the county tax rate will increase by 17 cents. The school district tax rate is has not been determined.

If the school district tax rate remains the same, the overall tax rate for a Windham resident would be $14.81 per $1,000 of property valuation, a 1.16% increase from last year. An owner of a $250,000 home could expect to pay $42.50 more than last year, or $3,702.50, under the proposal.

Tibbetts’ initial budget he submitted in March was $33.64 million. There is about a 1% increase in the lastest verson, or $359,905.

Tibbetts said his new proposal reflects an effort to balance spending with the expected loss in revenues at no additional cost to taxpayers.

The new budget reduces the projected overall revenues by 25% from the initial proposal.

Additionally, he slashed capital spending projects 60%, put an immediate freeze on $500,000 of expenditures for the current fiscal year to cushion revenues for next year and froze $350,000 worth of line items in the proposed budget in case revenues decrease more than projected.

“If the money doesn’t come in, we don’t spend it,” Tibbetts said in a phone call Tuesday afternoon.

Tibbetts added that he wanted to make changes to the budget that wouldn’t affect taxpayers and wouldn’t mean layoffs for the town staff.

“I’m committed to maintaining my current staff levels because I think they’re appropriate. I still have the same amount of work that needs to get done,” he said.

The other major change was to the capital projects. In Tibbetts’ initial proposal, he discussed two long-term projects that included road repaving, municipal building renovations, and equipment purchases.

Tibbetts said he and the Finance Committee decided to cut those expenditures drastically. He said he wanted to focus on the most urgent projects, which include the expansion of the police and fire station and improvements to the Town Hall.

The police/fire station, which was built in 1989, is now at over double its original capacity. Tibbetts said that not only are the emergency services employees in a cramped space, but the social distancing measures brought on by coronavirus highlights the urgency to start this project.

The other renovations will be in the Town Hall, where Tibbetts said the heating and air systems need to be updated and leaks need to be fixed among other repairs, and that is just a small portion of the $3.6 million budget for renovations.

Earlier in the meeting, Tibbetts proposed that the council reject the two bids for these projects and revise its requests in light of these changes. The council The passed the motion unanimously. Councilor Clayton Haskell was unable to attend the virtual meeting due to technical issues.

Councilor David Nadeau, who is the chair of the Finance Committee, thanked Tibbetts and Finance Director Susan Rossignol for their work on the budget. The Finance Committee had a version of the budget ready to go a couple of months ago, but when the impact of the coronavirus became clear, Tibbetts and Rossignol spent many additional hours working to adjust it, Nadeau said.

“This is basically the fourth budget and they did an excellent job… We’ve been really diligent with it and I have to thank them for their efforts,” said Nadeau at Tuesday night’s meeting.

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