At a public hearing on Wednesday, the Town Council tentatively approved a $97.2 million budget and a lower property tax rate for the year that begins Oct. 1.
Final approval of the budget and tax rate is scheduled at a second public hearing at 5:01 p.m. on Sept. 22 at Town Hall.
The budget, about $8 million (or 9.3 percent) larger than this year’s $89.1 million spending plan, includes nearly 10 new employee positions and 9 percent across-the-board pay increases tied to inflation.
Also included is $2.5 million for improvements in traffic signalization and crosswalk safety.
Commodities and other contractual costs are also up because of inflation, Town Manager Kirk Blouin said.
There is a $2.5 million transfer into the budget, from the capital improvement fund, to help fund reconstruction of the north fire station.
The council approved a property tax rate of $2.69 per $1,000 of taxable value – a 7 percent reduction from this year’s rate of $2.90 per $1,000.
The lower rate means homesteaded property owners will pay $111 less per $1 million of taxable value, according to the town. Those without the homestead exemption, who make up about 64 percent of property owners in the town, will pay $66 more per $1 million.
But Blouin said the budget will still generate $5.7 million more in property tax revenue because of an 18 percent average increase in taxable values on the island.