At their first meeting of the year, Durham officials reviewed a preliminary draft of the 2021-22 town budget. “There are some elements of this budget that are still estimated but I think we have a very good view early on this year of what we have to tackle,” said First Selectman Laura Francis.
The draft budget totals $8.05 million, representing a 13.78 percent increase over last year. The Board of Education budget is not included in this total.
This year, the town seeks to allocate an additional $6,000 to the tax assessor’s office to help accommodate staff changes and to cover overtime. Similarly, the town looks to dedicate an additional $13,420 to cover election-related expenses, including the employment of two new registrars.
Health insurance expenditures will increase, but by no more than 19.5 percent, said Francis.
The cost of the employee retirement plan is predicted to increase by 16 percent, or $31,177.
Public safety expenditures are also likely to increase.
Durham Volunteer Ambulance seeks a budget of more than $100,000, a 15 percent increase from last year, to accommodate vehicle maintenance and additional medical supplies.
Emergency Management Department funding may increase by $15,800, as the department seeks to accommodate equipment upgrades, additional communication supplies, professional stipends and storage needs.
Funds allocated to residential state trooper wages may decrease by more than $7,000. That plan may change, however, as Board of Finance member Chuck Stengel suggested hiring an additional trooper to help combat a surge in vehicle crimes.
The Farmers Market may also see a boost to its budget, as an additional $11,900 has been requested.
The Board of Selectmen will review the budget draft and will meet with the Board of Finance on Feb. 23 to discuss potential changes.