HARPSWELL — Harpswell’s proposed $5.5 million municipal budget for 2021 is up 4.5%, but town officials aren’t yet certain how that will impact the town’s property tax rate.

Town Administrator Kristi Eiane said officials will have a clearer idea of how the proposed budget will affect taxes after an assessment from Maine School Administrative District 75 in early March.

Harpswell’s current property tax rate is $6.74 per $1,000 of valuation. This means a Harpswell resident with a home valued at $200,000 gets a $1,348 tax bill.

Funding for a new fire truck, a road maintenance project and the second phase of a two-part upgrade at the recycling center are among the largest increases listed in the budget.

The town is budgeting $260,000 to help pay for a new fire truck for the Orr’s and Bailey Islands Fire Department. The truck costs $520,000 and is being partially paid for with leftover funding from previous years.

Orr’s and Bailey Islands Fire Chief Ben Wallace said the department’s 1991 truck is well past its 20-year life expectancy and is showing its age. He said many of the department’s volunteer firefighters can’t drive its manual transmission, its air compressor doesn’t function well and the drive shaft has broken several times.

Wallace said the department has tried to replace the truck for more than four years.

“Hopefully this year is the charm,” Wallace said.

The truck is one of the department’s two pumper trucks and holds 1,000 gallons of water.

Eiane said the town is also looking to borrow $650,000 for a capital road project on Gurnet Landing Road, Grover Lane and a portion of Basin Point Road.

“We’ll be grinding the surface down, putting tar in wherever it’s needed, and completely resurface it,” said Ronald Ponziani, Harpswell road commissioner. “It’ll look like a new road when we’re done.”

Ponziani said he didn’t include all of Basin Point Road in the project because a culvert under the road may get replaced soon.

“I’m adamant to not spend money on that road until I absolutely know what’s happening to it,” he said. “We’d like to do the whole road eventually, we just can’t in good faith do it now.”

Ponziani said the snow removal budget also increased $57,000 — a 14.5% jump from last year — because the town signed a three-year contract with a new snow removal service, Harpswell-based RA Webber & Sons.

“We’ve been underpaying for a few years, but we were getting what we paid for,” said Ponziani. “I wasn’t pleased with what we were getting and I wanted to get new people in and keep the money within Harpswell. These new guys are doing a great job.”

Eiane said the town also budgeted $450,000 for the second phase of capital upgrades to the recycling center. She said the first phase, which hasn’t been put out to bid yet, will replace the two compactors and add parking at the facility. The second phase will renovate the building, including the roof and electrical system.

However, the town may delay the second phase of the project depending on when Central Maine Power extends three-phase power to the recycling center and town office. Three-phase power is a type of service that would improve the efficiency of the recycling center.

The municipal budget will be voted on at the annual town meeting on June 8. The complete budget is available on the town’s website.


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