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Lower-than-expected spending makes up for budget error

By Kendra Caruso | Apr 29, 2021
Source: File photo Planning Board Chairman Brian Croft, standing, left, proposes a Shoreland Ordinance update at Burnham's town meeting March 20 at the Troy Road Fire Station.

Burnham — Burnham residents will not have to raise or appropriate extra money after a clerical error that it was feared would leave last year’s town budget short by nearly $100,000, according to Selectman Kristy Hapworth.

The auditor’s report from RHR Smith and Co. of Buxton is not yet available, but after speaking with the company the selectmen learned that the town had not spent the full amount that was budgeted last year and spending was less than the shortage amount, she said.

In the budget for the upcoming year, the town carried forward a substantial amount of money allocated for services and projects in last year's budget, for example, the Transfer Station, that resulted in $121,136.29 that was unused by the end of the fiscal year. Hapworth said the large amount of carryover funds might be attributed to the fact that last year's town meeting was held later in the year than usual, and there was not time to complete some of the budgeted projects before the end of the year.

The clerical error shorted the town budget approved last year by $99,653.96, which resulted in less tax revenue being collected from property owners in 2020. Selectmen thought the town budget was going to fall short because of the smaller amount of revenue raised through taxation. The clerk who made the error is no longer with the town.

At this year's town meeting March 20, selectmen discussed options for raising the money to cover the shortfall, but no vote was taken. The options included a supplementary tax bill or having residents vote to use whatever was in undesignated funds to cover it. Residents used at least $32,000 in undesignated funds to cover several articles at the meeting for the new fiscal year’s budget.

The coronavirus has created delays for RHR Smith this year, but the auditor’s report is expected to be issued by June 30, Hapworth said.

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