PALMER — Members of the public asked questions and expressed concerns about some of the budget item in the town’s fiscal year 2025 budget at Town Council meeting on June 10. `

Town Manager Brad Brothers explained the budget process started last December when meetings between department heads and the town manager took place. The results of those meetings were then sent to the council’s Budget Subcommittee for additional scrutiny.

Brothers noted that electrical rates for the town have decreased as well as the cost of health insurance, both he viewed as a “positive trend.” Fuel costs for the town are increasing, though.

He added the new budget included the addition of a new part-time building inspector to aid in the timely inspections of buildings.

One issue raised by a resident concerned the proposed increase in sewer rates. Brothers explained, “For a long time that rate was flat.” The result is the town not having the capital it needed for infrastructure repairs.

Questions were also asked about the Police Department budget by a resident who is on the board of the library. She wondered why the library received only a 2.6% increase but the Police Department received a 9.9% increase in the proposed budget.

Brothers said the increase reflects adding the money the town regularly spends on replacing police cruisers into the budget rather than taking the funding from free cash.

Town Council President Barbara Barry said adding those kind of recurring expenses “makes sense.”

She added, “We’re trying to live within our means.”

Brothers recommended both revenues and expenses come in at $41.98 million. The following are some of the key line-items in the budget:

  • Information technology, $201,280, 26.5% increase
  • Planning, $121,867 a decrease of 8.7%
  • Facilities, a new line item, $110,305
  • Memorial Hall, $49,930, 674.7% increase
  • Council on Aging, $204,811, an increase of 16.5%
  • Converse Middle School building, $44,000, a decrease of 21.4%
  • Building inspector, $179,508, a decrease of 5.7%
  • Board of Health, $124, 614, 13.4% increase
  • Veteran’s agent, $348,450 an increase of 4.7%
  • Recreation, $83,664, an increase of 2.3%
  • Treasurer, $97,798, an increase of 31.6%
  • Collector, $128,662, a decrease of 10.4%
  • Police Department, $3,185,948, an increase of 9.9%
  • Emergency Management, an increase of 11.1%
  • Department of Public Works, $2 million, an increase of 4.7%
  • Palmer Public Schools, $18.2 million and increase of 3.5%
  • Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School, $2,066,358, an increase of 1.1%
  • Palmer Public Library, $940,835, an increase of 2.6%

The council will vote on the budget at a later date.

The council also had a public hearing for changes in the ordinance governing streets and sidewalks. Matthew Morse, the director of public works, said the amended ordinance would “tackle a few concerns we have around town.” The amendments would establish a fine structure for activities such as blowing leaves into public ways; plowing snow from sidewalks and driveways into the street; and water and snow run-off issues.

The fines have not yet been determined, but Brothers said the goal of the ordinance would be compliance and not fines. The first step in addressing an issue would be a verbal warning he said.

Barry said that only people who were repeat offenders would be fined.