The Lisbon Town Council discusses Town Manager Diane Barnes’ proposed 2021-22 municipal budget on Tuesday. Screenshot

Lisbon Town Manager Diane Barnes has proposed a municipal budget that, if the town’s valuation remained the same, would increase the tax rate from $23.10 to $24.16 per $1,000 of assessed value.

That would increase the tax bill for a home assessed at $200,000 by $212.

The proposed $9.6 million municipal budget for 2021-22 amounts to a 7.1%, or $677,524, increase from the current budget.

The Lisbon School Department is proposing a $577,457 or 7.6% increase to its spending, which Barnes estimates would increase the tax rate by $0.96 or $192 for a home assessed at $200,000.

Lisbon’s share of the proposed Androscoggin County budget is increasing by $34,970 or 4.6%, which Barnes estimates would increase the tax rate by 6 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $12 for a home assessed at $200,000.

Barnes told the Town Council on Tuesday she doesn’t have revenue estimates yet because the state hadn’t released municipal revenue sharing projections — the portion of sales and income tax the state distributes to towns for property tax relief. According to Barnes, revenue-sharing is expected to remain flat or slightly decrease due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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If the town sees an increase in revenue, that would lower the tax rate increase. The town could also receive federal stimulus funding that may offset some capital costs, Barnes said.

Driving the spending increase, in-part, is $125,231 for a police officer and public works mechanic position the town left vacant in the current fiscal year. The positions were deferred to help flatten the tax rate due to concerns about the economic impact the pandemic would have.

Barnes also proposes to spend $289,058 on new positions — a patrol officer, an IT manager and per diem staff for the fire department. She also added $185,00 for public works equipment and vehicles.

Town department heads have recommended an additional $1 million or 11.2% increase in spending for 2021-22.

Barnes proposes spending $423,030 from the town’s undesignated fund balance to pay for these items without raising taxes. It includes expenses like $55,000 for roof work at the transfer station and $40,000 for a generator at the public works garage.

Council Chairman Allen Ward said the council will be prioritizing these needs.

“When you’re looking at a 7%-plus budget increase to start, it’s at times not palatable to anybody so we try to whittle that down as best we can by parking things and making the tough decisions at a later date,” Ward said.

Councilor Fern Larochelle said he feels it will be tough for the town to try to keep a flat or near flat budget. However, he doesn’t want to see total spending for the municipal and school budgets increase more than 10%.

“Realistically I just hope that we have some good news and we’re able to fulfill what we need without a big impact,” Larochelle said.


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