HOULTON – There were many questions but few changes to the town’s municipal budget for the coming year during a board of budget review meeting earlier this week.
The board is charged with reviewing the fiscal forecast before it is presented to the Town Council for final approval.
During the hearing, the board heard proposals from department heads who are poised to have their department secure a piece of the more than $8.5 million 2009 municipal budget.
The major expenses projected for the town next year are fuel oil, gas and diesel. The Aroostook County tax and the money the town must give to SAD 29 also have increased slightly.
Town Manager Doug Hazlett said the budget for the town’s community development and code enforcement departments had spiked slightly over last year but that the budget for the town’s assessing department had decreased $1,000 for the same time period.
The Houlton Police Department presented a budget that has increased 5.7 percent over last year, which Hazlett primarily attributed to salaries. Hazlett also added that the department has decided to make the detective’s position a permanent job for just one person instead of rotating officers in and out of the position. More officers also are qualifying for vacation time, according to Hazlett.
While the town has budgeted additional money for gasoline over last year, the town could see some savings in that line item as the price of gas has decreased recently.
The cost of police cruisers has increased, according to Chief Butch Asselin, but the department has reduced its budget for parts because of a good maintenance plan for the vehicles.
The budget for the Public Works Department has increased 8.7 percent over last year due to the escalating costs of fuel oil, parts, road salt and calcium chloride.
The board will meet again later this month.