Bristol zeros in on small hike in town tax rate

BRISTOL — The Bristol selectboard will likely finalize a 2013-2014 municipal budget proposal next Monday with a modest tax rate increase of around 1.1 percent, a number that Town Administrator Bill Bryant said the board felt good about presenting to voters.
“The big story for this year is that there is no big story,” Bryant told the Independent on Wednesday. “Our major infrastructure projects hit our budget in the last couple years and there is no new debt service this year, nor major changes in any programs or expenditures. The selectboard and departments have worked hard to hold the line.”
The selectboard went into their budget meeting this past Monday expecting a projected increase of 1.3 percent, but the actual requests from the Bristol Fire Department and the Lawrence Memorial Library were lower than town officials had guessed. That resulted in the 1.1 percent figure, which may still be lowered slightly, Bryant said, “if there is a bit of grand list growth, which there usually is.”
Bryant said the largest projected increase in spending, in terms of percentage, was for the Bristol Recreation Department, which has increased its budget by 6.5 percent. However, about half of that spending increase is “not real,” Bryant said.
“The Rec Department and town clerk share an employee and it was agreed to shift a couple hours between the two departments with a resulting increase for rec and a decrease for clerk, with no net change,” he explained. “Likewise, the private Bristol Recreation Club has lowered its appropriation request by $4,000, but the Recreation Department will now have some expenses for services that were formerly provided by the club. Bristol taxpayers actually appear to benefit from these proposed changes regarding recreation, but it just shows up in different parts of the budget.”

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