Brookline comes in at same ‘flat’ budget for ’09

BROOKLINE – Selectmen are proposing a “level-funded” budget for 2009.
Indeed, the proposed $3,750,629 budget, which does not include warrant articles, is $12,240 less than last year’s proposed budget, a decrease of 0.3 percent.
Historically, the biggest ticket items in the proposed budget are public safety – police, fire and ambulance services – and highways, streets, and bridges.
This year is no different.

Selectmen, who will be holding a public hearing on the proposed budget on Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 25-26, at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall, are asking taxpayers to foot the bill for road expenses totaling $676,150 – $450 less than what was proposed last year.

The actual amount the town spent for roads in 2008 was $699,374, $22,774 over budget.

Officials are asking for $666,975 for police in the proposed budget, increase of $22,278, or 3 percent.

The police budget is the only one affected by union contracts, which, once approved, are not negotiable.

By contrast, the $142,539 ambulance budget proposed for 2009 is $3,514, or 2 percent, less than it was last year.

>>Town Meeting ‘09<< The proposed fire department budget is $229,267, an increase of $1,878, or almost 1 percent. “The goal was to keep the budget flat,” said Rena Duncklee, executive assistant to the board of selectmen, adding that some numbers could be changed during the public hearing. Duncklee said officials might propose raising spending for plowing and sanding, given the severe weather the region has been experiencing. The town spent $11,227 in December to clean up after an ice storm that disabled the community. The cost was not included in last year’s budget, but may be eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement. On a positive note, Duncklee noted, the town locked in a fuel contract that puts it on par with market prices. That isn’t the case in some communities, particularly those that did not purchase downside protection before oil prices began to drop last year. Duncklee said some town department heads had to revise and re-submit their budgets several times to arrive at a number that was in line with last year’s budget request. She said officials are hoping that attendance is high at the budget hearings next week. The hearings will be broadcast on the town’s cable access station, Duncklee added. In addition, Duncklee will be posting the budget on the town’s Web site (www.brookline.nh.us) and will also have copies of the budget available at Town Hall.