Peter Bragdon – Budget Committee Chair
Before the pandemic, New Gloucester faced a budget situation that was challenging and already faced finding a large amount of money to save, in the ball park of $200,000. Now with COVID 19 in our world, we have to go back to the drawing board and adjust more. A large part of New Gloucester’s tax income is from excise tax on vehicles and recreational vehicles. With an economy that is going to suffer for a bit, the town’s portion of excise tax will drop. Currently we budget this revenue at $1.15 million. When the economy is good people buy cars, trucks and toys. The town reaps the benefits of that.
It is almost impossible to quantify what the effect will be on the revenue line. My uneducated guess would be that we have to plan on a $200,000 reduction in revenue. This means we need to go back and look at expenses again and see what can be adjusted. We don’t know what is going to happen with the state’s revenue sharing, excise tax, slower collection of property tax and personal property tax on business. Please don’t construe this as a final number, it is my personal thoughts and it could be higher or lower but I think it’s a good starting point for discussion.
The budget process going forward is not clear. The town meeting date has been moved to June 15th. This allows the budget to be developed until about April 30th when it needs to go through the posting process for the town meeting. What happens with the virus in the next two weeks will really determine how we proceed with the budget process. If the town does not pass a budget by June 30th, we can continue to operate on the 2019-20 budget. There are several challenges to this happening but it is a safety net for now that we may have to use.
It is my goal to have as much citizen input as we can. Again, we don’t know what that will look like and it may be limited to written testimony. We are working all this out at present.
Why do I tell you this? I think it is important for the citizens to know the challenges we are up against. We also need to understand that the services we are use to may look slightly different for the next couple years. We also need to be understanding that the process will not be perfect. We would all love for this to go away and things go back to normal very soon, but we need to be realistic. It will take time to recover from this, even just from what we have experienced so far.
Please be patient, be kind, be understanding. We are in this together. We all want nothing but the best for the Town of New Gloucester.