EXETER—Like a master chef holding a potful of an untested recipe, Exeter Town Council assistant Ken Findlay sat in front of his laptop computer Thursday night with the proposed FY 2012 budget for the Town of Exeter at his fingertips and did his best to see which combination of cuts and increases would please the greatest number of town council members during a special budget workshop meeting.
Tomorrow night, though, is the real test as that recipe goes out for public consumption for the first time.
With Findlay’s recommendations, the Exeter Town Council approved the framework for the sixth and latest budget proposal last Thursday night, agreeing to ask the public for a tax levy increase of $328,323, or 2.67 percent, for a total budget request of $12,608,332 and setting the stage for a special public hearing on the budget tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. at the Town Hall.
The budget increase, if ultimately approved during next month’s Financial Town Meeting, would be used primarily to cover a projected 13 percent increase in the total tax revenue required to fund town government, with $62,649 going to fund the 0.61 percent increase asked for by the school district after last month’s all-day referendum vote.
That brings the total costs to taxpayers in Exeter to $2,242,412 for the town side of the budget and $10,365,920 for the school portion of the budget.
Worth noting in the town aspect of the budget is that the town’s proposal is asking for an increase of $357,125 for its Capital Program Fund, the vast majority of which would go to fund the first of a three-year road plan.
The budget also calls for salary increases of $77,247.52, or 8.56 percent, on the town side, though that number is skewed primarily by accounting for the salary of Building Inspectors who are not slated to get more than their allotted 50 percent of fees for permits issued but are being accounted for within the Municipal Government Budget, a change from FY 2011.
Most other town salaries, however, have increased by two or three percent in the proposed budget.
Some of the cuts made in this budget, meanwhile, affect the line item for the Board of Canvassers Expenses, an overall reduction that will cut the previous total of $8,426 to $4,066, and to the animal shelter, which will take a 5.79 percent hit if this budget passes.
Anticipated revenue for the Town of Exeter is expected to increase by 27.1 percent, or $139,860, as the proposed budget by Governor Lincoln Chafee has called for Exeter to receive $82,437 in motor vehicle tax reimbursement that wasn’t on the books last year; an estimated increase of $12,374 in state of RI corporate tax revenue, an estimated $24,000 increase in building, plumbing, electrical and mechanical permits issues and an estimated increase of $20,000 in tax interest collected.
The budget also calls for $175,000 to be used from the town’s audited surplus funds, $100,000 of which would help offset some of the costs of the above-mentioned road improvement project and $75,000 which would be used for a new plow truck.
For more information on tomorrow night’s public hearing on the Town of Exeter’s proposed budget, pick up a copy of next week’s Standard Times.