Increases to areas like state retirement, salaries and the cost of fire protection account for the bulk of the 10.7% increase to the proposed Homer town budget for 2021.
“There’s just not a lot of changes,” said town Supervisor Fred Forbes before the board’s meeting Wednesday evening. “I’ve been very careful in my budget. I’m probably not as close to the line as some others are.”
The town is proposing a 10.7% increase in its spending for 2021. Some of that increase can be attributed to an increase in salaries. “I adjusted them to the cost of living,” Forbes said.
That, combined with increased spending for fire protection, would increase the property tax levy 14.2%
There was also some increase to the state retirement system going to $35,000 in 2021 from $32,000 in 2020.
The other large increase comes from fire protection costs — to $170,186 from $130,497 — which the town pays to the village. That cost increased the property tax rate 29% to 80 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value from 62 cents per $1,000.
“That’s what the village is asking for,” Forbes said.
Last year, Fire Chief Mahlon Irish said the fire department was trying to get the tax rate more toward $1 per $1,000 of assessed property value what many other fire protection tax rates are in the area.
“Historically, our fire tax has been lower than most,” Forbes said.
Forbes also noted that he was putting $150,000 toward bridges, in the hopes of repairing the WallStreet bridge, which was red-flagged by the state for structural issues and closed in 2018.
That money he said would come from reserves.
He also set aside $50,000 from reserves in case the town decided to do anything with the balcony at town hall, which recently went through renovations.
“I’m awful glad I have a little cushion in the bank,” Forbes said, about doing the budget this
year while dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
The town plans a work session Wednesday to go over more of the budget.
“I think we should have a working meeting so we have time to look this over,” said Deputy Supervisor Mike Park.
Forbes said no action will be taken at the meeting. No public hearing on the proposed budget has been announced yet.