Bath council approves budget and 3% levy increase
The Town of Bath Council unanimously approved an amended budget totaling $731,842 for fiscal year 2012 beginning July 1. The budget is $50,384 higher than last year’s budget of $681,458.
Included in the budget is an increase in the real estate tax levy of 3%. The council approved the budget at the Tuesday morning, March 15 meeting. The budget is due to the state no later than March 27.
Because the levy was raised, a public hearing will be held at the regular council meeting the third Tuesday in April.
Budget increase explained
Councilman David Crosby, who chairs the town’s finance committee, said the budget increase was caused by several factors. Those include capital expenditures on a new dump truck, two new police cars and software, a 3% raise for all town employees and a state mandated 2% raise in retirement fund contributions.
Crosby said the town now has to contribute 14 1/2% of an employee’s gross salary to the state retirement fund.
Other expenses contributing to the increased budget are an estimated 10% increase in employee health benefit costs and the continuing rise of the price of gasoline.
Chief to get a raise
Councilman Ken Easton, who chairs the town’s police committee, asked for a last minute change to the budget. He requested council approve a $3,000 pay raise for Bath Police Chief Craig Pearrell.
Easton suggested reducing the police vehicle maintenance budget from $6,000 to $3,000 to pay for the salary increase. He justified reducing the maintenance budget because the two new police cruisers purchased by the town last year should require less maintenance.
Easton was supported by Councilman Scott Merki who said, “He (Pearrell) came back (from his deployment in Iraq) to a department that was in shambles. I feel very strongly that when he came back here he has done everything he said and more. He has put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this department.”
Merki admitted several other employees have also worked very hard this year but said, “I feel this police department is running better than it has in a long, long time and I feel we need to reward our chief.”
After some discussion, the council unanimously approved amending the budget to increase the police chief’s pay by $3,000, bringing his yearly salary to nearly $36,000.
Mayor Susan Webster said there may be other employees who feel they deserve a larger increase than the budgeted 3%, but she cautioned,
“We are in a time in our economy when people are lucky to have a job, they are lucky to retain jobs, they are lucky to have any benefits and they are lucky to not have their pay cut. So this is, I would say, a weighty decision for the council to make, as was the 3% increase for all employees.”