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March 19. 2013 7:49PM

Newport's proposed town budget up less than 1 percent

NEWPORT - This year's proposed budget includes staffing changes to offset increases in insurance and retirement costs, Town Manager Paul Brown said Tuesday.

The budget approved by selectmen Monday night is $8,700,119, which is an increase of less than 1 percent over the current budget.

The budget and warrant are to be discussed and possibly amended at the April 2 deliberative session. The town meeting is set for May 14.

"It's a very lean budget and our department heads will have to be very cautious in their spending," Brown said.

To keep the budget trim this year in the face of rising health insurance and retirement costs for employees, staffing was adjusted, Brown said.

One town hall position was eliminated, another town position was reorganized and yet another position had hours reduced.

If the budget is approved, the changes take effect along with the budget July 1.

Three separate warrant articles would increase the budget to $9,193,331, including an article asking to spend $161,212 for the purchase of an ambulance.

The article includes a $78,000 bond that requires a 60-percent majority to pass. Of that amount, $56,000 would be funded through grants and donations, and the remaining $26,000 would be funded through current taxation.

Another article asks to raise $250,000 through taxes for road maintenance, and the third is a request to spend $82,000 from an existing capital reserve fund for town hall repairs and maintenance.

Another article placed on the ballot by selectmen would rescind the 2007 town meeting vote for official ballot voting.

"I just think people would like to go back to the town meeting format to really get the consensus of the meeting of the minds that people get at the meeting," Brown said.


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