Smyrna residents might get a break in 2013, as the Finance Committee is working on a budget with no tax increase.

The Finance Committee met Wednesday night to continue work on the fiscal year 2013 budget. While the budget is yet to be finalized, the committee is trying to find ways to add what the town needs without increasing property taxes for residents.

Moving the town forward

The Finance Committee has been working on a five-year capital budget; some of those projects are expected to start work in 2013. These projects are the police station expansion, utilities north of Duck Creek, water and sewer replacement to Commerce Street, electric upgrades to Green Meadows, and street work to Glenwood.

Mayor Pat Stombaugh said most of these projects have funding; therefore, the residents won't be impacted next year.

The budget also includes moving the grass cutting in-house, two new police cars, and much needed heavy equipment – three trucks and a backhoe.

The budget features three new full-time staff members and three new part-time positions. The full-time positions are for an assistant to the town manager, a warehouse clerk, and a municipal worker to be used for the in-house grass cutting. The part-time positions are for one part-time library clerk (a second part-time library clerk position also needs to be filled), and two public works employees to help with the grass cutting and whatever else they're needed for.

Paying for the projects

The lone capital project without funding is the Green Meadows electric upgrades. Stombaugh suggested paying for the $150,000 project and the $50,000 worth of needed utility upgrades to the town by taking roughly $200,000 out of the Rainy Day Fund. The heavy equipment costs about $519,000, but the committee wants to take money from a capital reserve fund.

Manager of Finances Gary Stulir also expects to see growth in the amount of money the town brings in through transfer taxes.

Stombaugh said these three factors – use of the capital reserve fund, Rainy Day Fund, and the increase of transfer taxes – will allow for a balanced budget and no increase in property taxes.

The committee said the Green Meadows project can be paid for from the Rainy Day Fund because that project has been backlogged. Stombaugh said after the meeting the electric utilities there have never been upgraded. Stulir added the residents deserve to have a reliable system.

"Green Meadows is a system reliability issue," Stulir said. "Residents pay for a service and the town feels we're obligated to provide a reliable system."

What's next?

The committee will meet again on Wednesday, Oct. 24 to continue cleaning up the budget. There will be a Special Smyrna Town Council meeting Monday, Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss, consider and possibly vote on the 2013 Capital Budget and the 2013 Operating Budget.

She said council will need to approve use of the capital reserve fund and rainy day fund prior to approving the actual budget.

Stombaugh is pleased with the budget thus far.

"I'm really pleased with the committee and staff," Stombaugh said. "Still it's because of what we've done over the last five years because cuts were made. We've really, really been restrictive and it got us to this point."

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