The Gorham Town Council Tuesday began its review of Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak’s proposed budget, which is 4.9% higher than this year’s spending plan.

The proposed $18.4 million budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 is up $854,548 over this year’s $17.5 million budget. The budget includes the $1.38 million county tax assessed on Gorham.

Not including any tax increases resulting from the school budget, the town budget would raise the property tax rate an estimated 29 cents to $5.11 per thousand of assessed value, up from $4.82. Taxes on a home assessed at $300,000 would be $1,533 up from $1,446 this year, equaling an $87 jump.

“General operating expenses related to running a municipality continue to rise. Much of the municipal budget was reduced or held despite expanding costs in FY2021 as a result of the unknowns of the pandemic,” Paraschak wrote in a letter to the council. “Utility expenses, employee-related benefits and contractual obligations have also steadily increased and always represent a significant portion of any new municipal budget.”

The proposed budget includes two new positions, an administrative assistant’s position in Paraschak’s office and a facilities coordinator’s position in the Public Works Department

The position at town hall would cost $36,368.

“This position would be dedicated support for all the town’s committees, boards and commissions with the exception of the Planning Board,” Paraschak wrote.

As the town has grown, so has the workload of its boards and committees, he said.

“The added workload continues to result in errors, delays and less productivity supporting municipal boards and committees with moving projects through our municipal government,” Paraschak wrote.

The salary for the Public Works position would be $61,433. The position would be responsible for coordinating maintenance, bids and other projects on all town facilities.

“The town currently subs to the Gorham School Department for maintenance on the municipal center and maintenance on all other facilities is currently the responsibility of each department head,” Paraschak said.

The budget also calls to step up the per diem Fire/EMS budget from $154,546 to $355,399 to provide better ambulance coverage. One ambulance is now staffed only 12 hours daily.

“This proposal, if approved, would allow for two ambulances to be staffed at all hours of the day,” Paraschak said.

The Town Council began its review of the municipal budget Tuesday and will continue its review in a workshop April 27.

The School Committee was to vote Wednesday after the American Journal deadline on Superintendent Heather Perry’s preliminary request to spend $46.3 million, up $3.6 million from the current $42.7 million.

Town Council Chairperson Lee Pratt said Wednesday the School Department must submit its budget to Paraschak by April 22.

School officials and town councilors are tentatively scheduled, Pratt said, to meet in a joint budget workshop on May 11.

Both the municipal and school budgets require Town Council approval with a public hearing and vote on June 1. School spending also requires voter approval in a validation referendum.

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