Harpswell’s 2023 budget proposal represents a 9.6% increase over the current fiscal year, due largely to rising labor and utility costs, factors other Midcoast town leaders say they are eying as they begin their annual budget processes.

Town Administrator Kristi Eiane presented the Harpswell Select Board with a $6.9 million budget Wednesday evening, up from this year’s $6.3 million figure. Across-the-board raises of at least 4% and benefits increases are responsible for more than $100,000 of the total bumps, moves Eiane said were needed to keep Harpswell competitive in a difficult hiring environment.

“We are always looking at trying to retain the excellent staff that we have here and to position ourselves to be able attract new people if any member decides to move on,” she said.

The proposal earmarks another $225,000 toward two major capital projects: a $600,000 recycling center upgrade planned for 2024 and a townwide property revaluation project Eiane expects to begin in three years.

Even as the town saves for future projects, Harpswell and other Midcoast communities have had to account for today’s high utility and materials costs.

“Things are expensive right now,” Bath City Manager Marc Meyers said. “We are seeing projects coming in at double what their original budget numbers were, and that’s going to cause us to be evaluating how we scale our capital improvement plan this year.”


Like Bath, Topsham is in the early stages of its budget process and has not published its anticipated 2023 figures, Town Manager Derek Scrapchansky said. But he was optimistic a new solar power purchasing agreement and the town’s conversion to LED streetlights would bring electricity savings that would help offset natural gas hikes.

“Those are things that are benefiting our town right now,” he said. “Topsham is in good shape.”

Harpswell residents will vote on the proposed budget at the March 11 Town Meeting.

The town will not estimate the property tax impact of the proposal until SAD 75 releases its 2023 budget, Eiane said. Thursday’s town budget included a recommendation to use $600,000 from Harpswell’s unassigned general fund balance (up from $500,000 in the current year) to help limit any necessary tax hike.

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