Almond: Voter attendance 'essential' at Monday's FTM

Almond: Voter attendance 'essential' at Monday's FTM

LINCOLN - Increased school security, sidewalk improvements and a 1.02 percent increase in the tax levy are among budget items that Lincoln residents will vote on at the 118th annual Financial Town Meeting on Monday, May 13, at 7 p.m.

At least 100 voters must head over to the Lincoln High School auditorium, 135 Old River Road, to maintain a quorum and pass the budget for the 2013-2014 year.

After months of vetting line items, the Budget Board will recommend a municipal budget of $18,954,019, and an education budget of $49,609,961.

The municipal budget, which represents an increase of $870,638, or 4.81 percent, from last year requires an increase of 1.02 percent in the tax levy.

Budget Board Chairman Carl Brunetti said preliminary estimates of the new tax rates, after the town-wide property evaluation, are $22.85 per thousand dollars for residential, $26.12 for commercial, $35.88 for personal property, and $30.66 for motor vehicle.

The education budget has been increased $1,092,883, or 2.25 percent, from last year.

Though Town Administrator T. Joseph Almond, citing $1.75 million in school surplus, originally proposed cutting the local appropriation to schools by $80,000, the Budget Board ultimately decided to recommend a level-funded budget.

Capital resolutions for the town total $2,484,558, and those for schools total $1,219,374.

Resolutions include:

* Construction of a walkway/bridge over Barney's Pond Dam - $150,000.

* Engineering costs for repairs to Butterfly Dam - $25,000.

* Two defibrillator monitors for the Rescue Department - $70,000.

* Sidewalk improvements on Front Street and Walker Street - $125,000.

* Replacement of the basketball court at Saylesville Park - $35,000.

* Upgrades at Quinnville Park, including replacement of swings, chains and edging timbers - $30,000.

* Replacement of the fencing at the LHS tennis courts - $18,000.

* Replacement of lighting fixtures and ceiling tiles at the Lincoln Public Library - $53,000.

* Updated Municipal Information Technology Department file servers, with increased storage capacity - $50,000.

* Replacement of the roof at Northern Lincoln Elementary School - $800,000 from school surplus.

* Upgraded security features at all schools - $419,374.

Security features include a new vestibule entrance at each school, and some entryway reconfiguration where it is needed, as well as six additional exterior security cameras at LHS and 45 interior cameras and nine exterior cameras at Lincoln Middle School.

A roof assessment is also planned for all schools except LMS.

Almond said the Budget Board has recommended a responsible budget.

"The proposed budget contains ample funding to provide effective municipal and educational services while limiting spending to an increase in the tax levy of just over 1 percent," he said. "The budget as proposed insures the town's exceptional financial health and protects our excellent bond ratings."

He continued, "The proposed budget also continues to fund investments in capital improvements for our schools, library, roads, dams, parks and town properties. These responsible investments are essential to the future financial strength of the community."

Almond said the capital investments have been funded "without incurring debt and with no increase in the property tax levy."

All eligible voters are encouraged to attend to decide the allocation of their tax dollars, as well as the local property tax levy. Last year, 205 people voted at the two-hour-long FTM.

Almond stressed the importance of attending the public meeting.

"It is essential that Lincoln voters attend the May 13th meeting," he said. "A strong attendance assures that voters will maintain the right to determine how their hard-earned tax dollars are spent."

The FTM will also include Budget Board elections. The following terms will expire on Monday:

* Town Moderator, one-year term. Currently filled by Robert Turner.

* District 1, four-year term. Currently filled by William McManus.

* District 1, five-year term. Currently filled by Domenic Ricci.

* District 2, five-year term. Currently filled by Michael Babbitt.

* District 5, four-year term. Currently filled by Rhonda Lacombe.

Voters can review the recommended budget on the town's website at www.lincolnri.org . They can also contact the Town Clerk's office at 401-333-8451 for more information.