NEW GLOUCESTER — The town manager’s first draft of the 2021-2022 budget includes significant boosts to departments slashed by last year’s cuts.

The $5,994,845 budget is a 25.3% increase over last year’s $4.8 million budget, according to the Dec. 31 draft. A second draft was supposed to be available in February, according to the town’s website, but has not yet been posted.

Town Manager Brenda Fox-Howard could not be reached for comment. She recently announced that she is resigning to take the same position in Casco. Her last day in New Gloucester is April 2 and the first day in Casco is April 5.

The select board has scheduled the first public hearing on the budget proposal for Monday, March 8.

Among the major changes are increases to the fire and rescue, planning, library and parks and recreation departments. Each of those department budgets includes salary raises for their directors. All of the director’s salaries and weekly hours were cut last year, as were the departments at large.

For the fire and rescue department, the manager’s budget proposes a 13% salary increase, or $77,500, for the fire chief, a position that now includes serving as chief emergency medical attendant and town health officer. The proposed department budget also includes $360,000 for 24/7 emergency medical services, $50,000 of which will be for a paramedic manager. The department budget totals $694,806, a nearly 8% increase from last year. Last year’s budget was about even with the 2019-2020 budget.

The planning, library and parks and recreation directors’ hours will all return to 40 hours a week after being reduced to 36 hours last year. The assistant librarian will stay at 36 hours a week. All positions include benefits.

The planning department budget of $68,810 is a 14.6% increase over last year and includes at 13.9% increase to the planner’s salary, or $62,020. The department budget last year was cut by 13.6%.

A 19.5% increase is proposed for the parks and recreation budget for a total of $106,209 and includes an 11% increase to the director’s salary, or $51,168, and a 65.5% increase to compensation overall, which includes the director and other hourly employees for programs such as cheering and soccer. The department last year was cut by 36%.

The library budget of $121,197 is a nearly 18% increase from last year’s budget of $102,033. The library recently reopened after funding disagreements last year closed its doors for six months. The department’s budget went before voters three times before finally getting approved in December at a 3.7% decrease over the previous year’s budget.

In addition to salary increases for the library’s two employees, the manager is also proposing $15,412 for “professional services,” which includes catalog software upgrades and web hosting. It also includes $7,500 for a new computer lab with six stations and a printer, a first for the library. The two employee’s salaries combined are $82,268. The budget does not break down each salary individually.

The budget for capital improvement projects is $867,050 and $743,050 of which is for Stevens Brook improvements. The 2020-2021 CIP budget was just $11,000 and was a 72% cut from 2019-2020.

There is also an additional $346,054 for paving projects, a 19% increase.

The manager’s proposal does not include a projected property tax rate. The 2020-2021 tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property value is $13.65, which includes the county, municipal and school taxes. The municipal tax rate alone was $3.74. The owner of a $250,000 home in New Gloucester paid $3,412.50 in property taxes this fiscal year.

The public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday via Zoom. For more information, visit newgloucester.com.

Comments are not available on this story.