East Spencer adopts $5.46 million budget with no tax hike; federal funding will help improve water system

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 25, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

EAST SPENCER — The Board of Aldermen on Wednesday adopted a $5.46 million budget for 2021-22 that includes no tax hike and millions in federal funds.

The 2021-22 budget begins July 1 and includes an increase in nearly every fund compared to the current budget ending June 30. A total of $5.09 million was adopted for the general fund for 2020-21.

The water and sewer fund will total $890,638, which is up from the $870,638 adopted for 2020-21. Also included in the budget is $254,103 for the fire department, which is a 13% increase from the current budget. A total of $542,245 will go to the police department. Town Administrator Michael Douglas told the Post the town will be purchasing a new police vehicle.

A total of $146,000 is allocated for public works, $39,350 for zoning and planning, $29,709 for parks and recreation and $52,000 from state Powell Bill revenue, which is used for road work. Included in the budget is $90,753 for capital and special projects, which includes debt payoff of a fire truck and state grants.

“I think this budget shows we’re intentional and focused on our future, Mayor Barbara Mallett told the Post. “And that we’re trying to incorporate all the services for our citizens at a better rate.”

The town anticipates receiving $225,000 in American Rescue Plan funds, which is budgeted in the general fund. The town is currently working on a plan to use those funds pending more federal guidance on eligible uses.

Additionally, the town will receive nearly $2 million in Community Block Development Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to be used for the rehabilitation of its water system. Another CBDG grant in the amount of $750,000 will be dedicated to home revitalization projects. East Spencer is currently among the municipalities on the Local Government Commission’s watchlist for past financial issues with its water/sewer fund.

The only proposed change at the meeting was a request from council members to include a fee for renting the concession stand at the Royal Giants Park, which was added to the budget’s fee schedule, Douglas said. Mallett said the cost would be $75, but the amount will be reimbursed in full if rentals are clean when returned.

She added the fee increase also helps efforts in “cleaning up the town” with the associated abatement and nuisance fees. Included in the public works fund is $5,000 for demolitions, and all expenses in the fund reflect two days of code enforcement regulation throughout the town.

Though not included in this budget at this time, Mallett said the town will soon need to upgrade its police and public works vehicles.