HOWLAND – It’s budget time again for towns and cities across our state. The town of Howland is coming in under budget and it’s not the first time.
Howland, an idyllic little community in the center of Penobscot County is a town known for its historic tannery.
“It’s quite an achievement for any town, especially a small town in Maine,” said David Wilson, manager, treasurer and tax collector for the town.
Wilson said he is extremely excited to announce that, excluding the school budget, the town’s expenses are coming in significantly under budget.
“This year, when it’s all said and done, we’ll come in $288,000 below last year’s budget, which is below the previous years budget,” Wilson said.
Last year, the town came in $68,000 under. He said the goal this year was to come in status quo or with as little of an increase as possible. They’ve done this without losing any town services.
“Over time we’ve increased town services. Over the last year, we’ve gone from a call fire EMS service to a full-time chief, who before was part-time chief. We’ve just appointed a full-time chief, and we now have 24/7 paramedic coverage”, said Wilson.
He credits a combination of factors.
“Our expenses came in down and our revenues came in up,” he said.
He also credits a budget committee that’s made up of volunteers who are local business-driven folks. They work with Wilson for an extensive period of time.
“To come in and meet with me on a weekly basis during those two or three months where we’re actually taking a look at each department and taking a look to see what it costs us to run those departments,” said Wilson.
This is done before handing documents to the Board of Selectmen.
“We’ve been extremely happy with what they’ve worked, how they’ve worked, worked together. They’ve just done a very good job,” said Michael Harris, who is chairman of the Board of Selectmen.
Chairman Harris credits the revenues coming in from the added EMS services and said it helped to bring in more revenue for the town. With a population of a little over 1,200, he said, this helps lighten the burden for residents.
“We’re hoping that the mill rate will be down and if the mill-rate comes down, it’s definitely gonna affect people’s taxes,” Harris said.
The two aren’t sure how next year’s budget will go but they’re optimistic.
“It would be great for us to set ourselves up for future, I don’t like to say bad years, but tougher years than what we had this year,” said Wilson.