DUMMERSTON -- Selectboard members have finished work on a fiscal year 2015 budget proposal that calls for taxpayers to contribute a bit more to the town's coffers.
Selectboard members point out that the increase in tax revenues -- proposed at 1.57 percent -- is relatively small and would have been even smaller had it not been for a procedural change that lowered the town's projected revenues.
Overall, the budget actually reduces general-fund spending and was approved unanimously by the five-member board.
"I'm pretty proud that this is where we ended up," Selectboard member Steve Glabach said.
The fiscal 2015 budget takes effect July 1 and is subject to approval at Town Meeting. Dummerston's actual tax rate for next fiscal year won't be calculated until early summer, after the grand list is finalized and the state calculates each town's education-tax rate.
But the town's proposed budget sets $733,703 as the amount to be raised from taxes. That's up $11,383, or 1.57 percent, from the current fiscal year's projected tax revenues.
There would have been need for only a .46 percent tax-revenue increase if not for a shift in accounting practices that sapped $8,000 from the town's revenues for next fiscal year.
"In previous years, we use to project that we would receive $4,000 each from interest on delinquent taxes and penalties on delinquent taxes," Treasurer Laurie Frechette told the Selectboard. "On the advice of the auditor ... he said we should not be anticipating receiving anything. So this year, we deleted that."
Breaking the budget into its two main parts, the Selectboard expects to spend $421,088 on the general fund and $479,838 on the highway fund in fiscal 2015.
General-fund expenses are down from the current year, while highway-fund expenses are up.
In total, Dummerston's fiscal 2015 spending is proposed at $900,926; that is $1,627 lower than the current year's budget. Also, total revenues are projected to be up slightly from the current year.
There still is an expected need, however, for greater tax revenue in fiscal 2015. That's in part because the Selectboard elected to place an additional $13,000 into the town's capital-plan fund.
A few other notes from the proposed budget:
-- The Selectboard gave town employees a 3 percent raise.
-- The town's bottom line benefited from the fact that the board did not have to allocate $15,000 for an outside audit; that allocation is not required in the next fiscal year.
-- The board applied a $46,644 surplus from fiscal year 2013 to the fiscal 2015 spending plan. That is standard practice in Dummerston; for instance, the current year's budget included a $39,104 surplus from fiscal 2012.
-- The town's supplemental-coverage contract with Windham County Sheriff's Department remains steady at $9,600.
Glabach unsuccessfully argued for a bigger investment in law-enforcement coverage, saying he believes the town could have gone as high as $12,000 to buy additional patrols.
"I just think that, with the crime that we're seeing and the accidents that we're seeing, we need more sheriff's protection and more visibility from the sheriff's department," Glabach said.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.