The fiscal year 2020 general fund operating budget was approved by the selectboard and will be added to the ballot for Town Meeting Day in March.
The board unanimously approved a $13.1 million FY20 general fund operating budget, a 2.4 percent increase from the current year, at its Jan. 8 meeting. Of that, $10.6 million will be raised by property taxes, and the rest comes from non-tax revenues, according to deputy town manager Geoffrey Urbanik.
The board made no changes the proposal from town manager Aaron Frank, he said.
Approximately $1.1 million of capital funds will also be raised by property taxes. However, voters already approved this as part of the town’s multi-year capital plan, so no further action is needed, Urbanik explained. This brings the total combined operating and capital budget raised through property taxes to about $11.7 million, or an increase of 2.7 percent over last year.
Based on an assumed grand list growth of 1.36 percent, if approved by voters, the budget would raise the tax rate by about 1.34 percent.
This would raise taxes for a home of $250,000 by about $18, according to town manager Aaron Frank.
Notable additions to the operating budget include a 5.3 percent increase to the fire department budgets to match a federal grant to fund three full-time, weekday firefighters. The board also approved the public works department’s request for a new highway and path maintenance worker to help manage the growing number of roads and paths.
Other increases include contributions to the Essex Community Justice Center ($16,200), the Howard Center community social workers ($20,000) and transportation for seniors and persons with disabilities ($10,000).
In addition to the budget, voters will also weigh in on a separate ballot item to allocate $9.65 million in local option taxes to help fund the multi-million Malletts Bay sewer project.
Town Meeting Day is Tuesday, March 5. Voters can cast ballots from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Colchester High School.