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Deerfield reduces deficit by $293,018

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Deerfield town officials are considering several changes to the current budget proposal that would decrease next year’s projected deficit by $293,018.

By the latest Finance Committee estimates, the town was facing a $639,139 shortfall for the next budget year, which begins July 1. The newest estimates bring the shortfall to $346,121.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Mark Gilmore said the town is supposed to have a balanced budget by today . Reaching that deadline appears unlikely as the Finance Committee continued to crunch numbers this week. It will meet again with the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday.

The town is hoping to avoid a Proposition 2½ tax override.

There are several options the town is considering to balance its proposed budget, according to an email by Finance Committee Chairman Albert “Skip” Olmstead to Finance Committee members. Olmstead presented the letter at this week’s meeting.

First, the town is considering a Proposition 2½ debt exclusion for the loan payments still owed on the former Oxford Pickle property. The debt service for next year is $144,018. If the town approves the exclusion, the deficit would be reduced to $495,121.

A debt exclusion on the Oxford property would increase the tax rate by 20 to 25 cents and would cost the average taxpayer between $50 to $60 next year, Olmstead said.

Second, the Highway Department cut $87,000 from the transfer station budget. Highway Director Shawn Patterson said the savings come from “diligent operations of the facility.” Three-quarters through the year, the department still has $154,000 left in its transfer station account.

Though the department faced a $56,000 shortfall in its snow and ice budget for this year, it will now take that amount of out of the transfer station and apply it to the highway snow and ice budget to balance it.

That brings the shortfall down to $346,121.

The town expects to spend $14,640,791 and bring in $14,001,652 according to the latest estimates.

Expenses increased due to $500,000 for the first payment for the new highway garage, school expenses, group insurance, retirements and the new regional ambulance service. The town also has less in state aid and one-time funds it relied on in the past to make up for budget deficits.

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