By Diana Bowley, Of the NEWS Staff - DEXTER - A budget that likely will raise the mill rate by $1 per $1,000 valuation was greeted with a bang last Thursday during the Town Council's meeting.As the council was discussing the budget, there was a loud bang and the Morrison building began to shake, recalled Town Manager Robert Simpson.
"I thought a floor joist had collapsed," Simpson said. After a hurried inspection revealed nothing wrong with the building, the meeting resumed. "The event lasted only a moment but it certainly got everyone's attention," he said.
Simpson said he later learned that there had been a mild earthquake in the immediate area and that the Morrison building was likely close to the epicenter of the small quake. In hindsight, Simpson said the meeting probably should have been canceled and the building evacuated. It was, he said, an experience.
The $2,706,276 budget adopted by the council reflects an increase of 6.5 percent over last year and represents the first significant increase since 1997, according to Simpson. That increase takes into consideration the planned purchase of a new dump truck, a new police cruiser and a used firetruck.
"Every department gave up something," Simpson said. The council started the process in May with a budget of $2,860,416, but made significant cuts along the way. A recommended 7 percent cost-of-living increase was pared to 5 percent.
The council moved $306,000 from capital reserves to offset declining revenue and to fund the new equipment purchases, according to the town manager. Town officials are currently working to determine the tax rate, but Simpson said it appeared the budget would create an increase of one mill, from $20.70 to $21.70 per $1,000 valuation. The new mill rate will be set at the council's Aug. 14 meeting.
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