By John Toole
---- — WINDHAM — Town Administrator David Sullivan is asking selectmen to approve an operating budget increase for the first time in at least four years.
Sullivan, meeting with selectmen last night, presented his budget proposal, requesting a 2.73 percent increase in spending.
Sullivan told selectmen a “modest increase” is necessary due to the combination of budget decreases the past three years and the town’s obligations under state law.
“Over the past two months, we have carefully reviewed all funding requests from each department head and committee and have worked with them to forumulate what we believe to be a budget that reflects both the ability to maintain our current level of service to the community, as well as the economic environment,” Sullivan said in his budget memo to selectmen.
The proposed 2013 operating budget would be $12.7 million, up from $12.4 million. The operating budget saw decreases of 0.07 and 1 percent the past two years and was level in 2010.
“The 2013 budget, as proposed, includes no new employee positions or increases from part-time to full-time,” Sullivan wrote.
There is a 3 percent cost of living adjustment for members of the municipal union, he said. Police and firefighters unions are still in negotiations.
Sullivan’s memo didn’t address the potential property tax impact. But selectmen will put their stamp on the budget before voters get their say at Town Meeting in March.
Selectmen’s Chairman Bruce Breton said a series of selectmen’s budget sessions will be scheduled between now and Dec. 17.
Breton wants to bring the proposed increase down.
“A $337,000 increase in spending is above comprehension for me,” Breton said.
The state Department of Revenue Administration recently set the 2012 tax rate at $23.05, down 3 cents from 2011. The town portion was $3.64, down 15 cents from 2011.