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Select Board draws on undesignated funds to keep taxes down

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Jun 22, 2020
Source: Facebook A new roof for the Town Office deck is among the items in the newly approved Islesboro budget.

Islesboro — Town Manager Janet Anderson said 2020 "is a very different year" during which getting the budget done has been a "nightmare" because of the constraints and the unknowns imposed by the new coronavirus.

The town held its final budget hearing via Zoom and approved a budget of $4,022,118.50 June 18, of which $3,073,516.50 will be raised from taxes, an increase of just $833, or 0.02%, from last year. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

Among the ways in which this year is different is the fact that there will be no town meeting, with municipal offices and town housekeeping items decided by referendum ballot Aug. 25. Nomination papers were due back to the Town Office Tuesday.

Although the total budget amount for the coming fiscal year is up $321,088, or 8.7%, from last year, Anderson said the Select Board decided to take $545,000 from the undesignated fund balance — monies allocated but not spent — to prevent taxes from rising significantly. That is more than twice the $240,000 taken from undesignated funds last year.

Of that $545,000, they allocated $400,000 to the capital reserve account for paving. Anderson said that is twice the amount usually budgeted for this purpose, adding that the town paves about 2 miles of road per year. However, she said the higher amount was because the board "wanted to make sure we can pave next year." If paving is not done in the coming fiscal year, because the money is in the capital reserve account, it will not revert to the undesignated fund balance, and so will still be available for paving in future years, she said.

In addition, there is $75,000 in a capital reserve line for sea-level rise engineering at The Narrows, the narrowest part of the island, where rising tides necessitate that the roadbed be raised, Anderson explained. The work will be based on a survey done by CES Inc. of Brewer.

The board also added $70,000 from undesignated funds at the June 18 hearing to further reduce the amount to be raised from taxes, Anderson said.

Some other items of note in the budget include the following: the subsidy for Islesboro Municipal Broadband is $147,088, up a little more than $16,000 from the previous year because GWI, which provides the island's broadband service, increased its fees, Anderson said. She explained that the town pays GWI monthly and bills residents $360 per household a year.

The Public Safety/Fire Protection budget includes $7,000 for host testing, which is done every five years and was last done in 2015. Anderson said it was added as a line item this year at the fire chief's request to make it easier to track.

The amount allocated for EMS on-call pay under Health & Welfare/Ambulance dropped from $43,800 to $30,000 because there are fewer crew members, Anderson said. She said there are still enough members to cover the need, and the service is seeking new members.

Under Health & Welfare/General Assistance, the amount for emergency ferry runs was doubled from $15,000 in 2020 to $30,000 for the coming year because the amount available in capital reserve to cover these trips had been drawn down, Anderson said. And the health center subsidy was increased from $597,357 to $652,255 to allow more money for substitute coverage at the health center, she said. It is hard to get medical staff to cover for health center personnel who go on vacation or are out for other reasons, she said, especially people with the necessary experience.

Anderson noted that the town is unusual, not only because it participates in the running of the health center, but also because the facility is actually attached to the Town Office building.

Under Public Works/Building Repair & Maintenance, the town will contribute $9,500 to refinish the gymnasium floor at the Kinnicutt Center, where some municipal programs take place, and will spend $30,000 to add a roof over the deck at the Town Office to prevent snow from falling on the ramp up to the office, Anderson said.

Just like last year, this year's budget contains $49,000 for Town Office weatherization under Public Works/Energy Committee. Anderson said because of the amount of work needed, it was spread over two years.

Under Waste Removal/Transfer Station Operation, $145,000 is budgeted for solid waste handler Casella, compared to $130,000 the previous year. Anderson said fees went up, and "I may have under-budgeted before."

The town will pay less under Recreation/Library for the library director because last year money was allocated for new Library Director Melissa Olson to train while the previous library director was still on the staff, Anderson said. The line item decreased from $51,000 to $41,850.

In addition, the town will make the final payment on the Dark Harbor Wastewater Treatment Facility of $90,000, an extra $20,000 above the annual payments for the last four years, to save $618 in interest and have $20,000 to put somewhere else in the fiscal year 2022 budget.

Here are the changes in budgets for all town departments:

General Government went up $21,896, or 3.4%, from $643,394 to $665,290.

Public Safety went from $189,526 to $200,944, an increase of $11,418, or 6%.

Health rose from $704,422 to $765,206, a boost of $60,784, or 8.6%.

Public Works dropped $166,960, or 20.7%, from $805,260 to $638,300.

Waste Removal increased from $194,500 to $210,490, an increase of $15,990, or 8.2%.

Recreation decreased from $190,394 to $179.685, dropping $10,709, or 5.6%.

Providers, nonprofits that provide various services to residents, went down $1,644, or 10.8%, from $15,174 to $13,530.

Unclassified, which includes Memorial Day supplies, cemetery maintenance, various insurances and the town audit, rose from $350,229 to $370,922, a hike of $20,693, or 5.9%.

Capital Reserve jumped from $360,000, or 156.5%, $230,000 to $590,000,

Debt rose from $378,141 to $387,751, an increase of $9,610, or 2.5%.

In addition, the new budget for Islesboro Central School is $2,454,849, up $21,695, or 0.9% from last year's $2,433,154, and the town's share of the Waldo County budget is $802,446, as compared to last year's $725,305, an increase of $77,141, or 10.6%. Thus, the total appropriation for the year is $6,330,811, up from last year's $6,231,142 by $99,669, or $1.6%.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: wendy c kasten | Jun 24, 2020 07:55

What town does this refer to?

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