GUILFORD -- For fiscal year 2015, Guilford’s bottom line will look much the same as this year’s.
That’s good news for residents, as Guilford Selectboard members have approved a proposed town budget that is slightly lower than the fiscal 2014 plan.
Level-funding a municipal budget is "not easy to do," Selectboard member Anne Rider said. But board members said they had no choice, noting a higher-than-usual tax-delinquency rate in the current year.
"We want Guilford to be a town that people want to and can afford to live in," Rider said.
"It’s hard for us -- our budget is small -- to make cuts," she added. "But we needed to do it. And we hope the school is able to do it, too."
Both the town budget and school budget -- which is set separately by Guilford School Board -- are subject to voter approval at Town Meeting in March.
Guilford’s actual tax rates for fiscal 2015 won’t be set until several months after Town Meeting, when the state calculates each town’s education tax.
But Guilford Selectboard members had set a goal of keeping their expenses to a minimum, and they faced a significant obstacle as health-care changes drove up costs.
Officials responded by cutting expenses, mostly by reducing the town’s paving budget -- which usually stands at $160,000 -- to $100,000.
Guilford Town Administrator Katie Buckley classified the paving cuts as a one-time move, and she said the town’s paving program is not taking a big hit.
"We are actually in a really good position in terms of paving because we got in excess of a $150,000 grant last year that allowed us to do more (paving) than scheduled," Buckley said.
"Because of that, we’re able to cut back this year," she said. "It would be great to continually fund (paving), but this was really good timing, and it cushioned the blow."
There were other budget cuts, officials said, but nothing as significant as the paving reductions.
"Some of the other ones were nickel-and-diming. There’s nothing like being financially strapped to make you look at things in a different way," Buckley said. "It was looking more closely at history -- how we’ve spent -- and budgeting closer to actual (spending) versus following what you always do."
The Selectboard on Monday voted to approve a fiscal 2015 general-fund budget of $969,231, which is roughly $800 less than the general-fund spending plan for the current year.
The town’s fiscal 2015 highway budget is proposed at $801,912 -- just $12 above the current highway budget.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.