Lyme town budget: Let the good times roll

Editor's note: This corrects an earlier version of this article.

Lyme - No staff cuts, no wage freezes, no scaling back of services, no additional taxes.

And yet, for the second year in a row, the Board of Selectmen have proposed a town government budget that is less than the current spending plan.

The $8,628,752 budget proposal is 2.89 percent less than the current budget. If adopted, the budget would keep the tax rate at 13.5 mills, said First Selectman Ralph Eno.

Lyme's share of the Lyme-Old Lyme school budget, meanwhile, is expected to go up 0.3 percent, to $5,880,721. The school budget referendum is scheduled for May 8.

Though the town is ramping up the amount it's setting aside for the closure of the landfill - from $80,000 this year to $175,000 in the 2012-13 fiscal year - that increase is tempered by, among other things, the completed purchases of equipment such as a backhoe and truck, Eno said.

The landfill could cost anywhere from $600,000 to $1 million to close over the next five years, Eno said. As part of the closure, the town must also build up its transfer station, running power to the station and adding facilities for such things as waste oil and antifreeze disposal.

Lyme is paying the final bill for the acquisition of Mount Archer and the Jewett preserve as open space. That means the town will be free of a roughly $400,000 bill in next year's spending plan.

Town staff will receive 2 percent raises, and the selectmen have proposed bumping up the annual contribution to the open space reserve fund from $50,000 to $75,000.

"Everything kind of aligned just right for us," Eno said, adding later, "We should enjoy this next year while we can."

Meanwhile, the town will continue to set money aside for the Town Hall and library building projects, which will go to a referendum on May 22. The selectmen have budgeted $135,128 for the upcoming year to pay for construction documents.

The town is proposing to draw $87,763 from the surplus fund next year to keep the tax rate flat, but Eno said there's a good chance it won't need to if the town generates more income than expected, as it is doing this year. Town officials expect to end the year with $60,000 more in taxes, interest and lien fees than projected.

The mild winter meant the town only spent $15,800 of the $45,000 salt-and-sand budget as well as less on town crew overtime, Eno said. And because costly repairs were not needed for the Joshuatown Bridge, some of the budgeted $33,000 for that project will be returned to the surplus fund at the end of the year, he said.

The Board of Finance will hold a budget public hearing at 7:30 p.m. on May 7 at the Hamburg Fire Station.

The annual town meeting, where residents vote on the budget, is scheduled for May 25.

j.cho@theday.com

2012-13 BUDGET PROPOSAL (corrected)

Town government: $8,628,752 (2.89 percent decrease)

School budget: $5,880,721 (0.3 percent increase)

Tax rate: 13.5 mills

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