Bristol Budget Committee's work winds down


January 19, 2011
BRISTOL—After months of careful consultations and consideration, the Bristol Budget Committee's deliberations wound down this week in anticipation of a public hearing scheduled for Monday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Old Town Hall.

The committee will meet once more on Monday, Jan. 31 to consider warrant articles and to vote on the final bottom line figure to be presented to voters at the public hearing. Additional petitioned warrant articles are anticipated to come in from the public before the Feb. 1 deadline.

While Town Administrator Michael Capone is still fine-tuning the final numbers, the budget committee has completed its line item review of the operational budget and capital items, coming in at a total recommended 2011 budget of approximately $5,162,777, down slightly from last year's budget total.

While estimated revenues can vary from year to year and the town is scheduled for a revaluation in 2011, making the ultimate impact on the tax rate difficult to calculate, the goal of a level funded tax rate, given current conditions, was the guidepost for deliberations.

The budget committee and board of selectmen are in fairly close agreement on the 2011 budget, and the process has gone very smoothly this year. Select board representative to the budget committee Jeff Shackett took the opportunity at Monday night's meeting to thank department heads, town administration and his fellow committee members for an extremely "civil" discussion and cooperative process under the leadership of Budget Committee Chairman Shaun Legeuex, and he especially thanked Capone for his help in providing timely and accurate information throughout the long process.

Monday night, the budget committee voted to approve several capital items recommended by the board of selectmen and reviewed by the Capital Improvement Committee, although other items recommended by the CIP Committee were turned down or postponed for this year's budget.

Capital items that made the cut include one three-quarter-ton highway truck, a backup generator for the fire department (to be partially covered by outside funds), new appraisal /tax collection software, and a police cruiser that will be included in the regular 2011 operational budget.

The budget will include essential paving and road reconstruction projects that have been postponed from previous years, but not the full program of improvements that are recommended.

The board of selectmen is not recommending roof repairs for the Old Town Hall, preferring instead to postpone this item pending a thorough review of needs and uses for the historic building and a detailed plan for the future.

Warrant articles in the pipeline will include a new proposal to construct a one-story addition to the Minot Sleeper Library at a cost of approximately $1.3 million, including renovations to the existing historic library. Last year, voters narrowly defeated a $1.7 million proposal to build a two-story addition out the back of the existing building. The bond vote will require a two thirds majority to pass muster at Town Meeting.

The new proposal will entail a 4,000-square-foot addition to be built on the adjacent parcel of land (the former Premium Glass Building — now demolished), purchased jointly by the town and the library trustees several years ago. The new proposal will resolve safety problems at the library and bring the building up to code while making the facility ADA accessible, all on one floor.

The library trustees will present the plan for the library addition to the Bristol Board of Selectmen at the regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, Jan. 27, and additional public meetings on the project are being scheduled.

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