BUCKFIELD — Voters Saturday took four hours to debate 46 warrant articles for the 2017-18 budget, passing all but Article 25.
The nearly 50 voters in attendance approved a 2017-18 overall budget of $3.39 million, an increase of $97,760 from last year’s budget.
Town Manager/Town Clerk Cindy Dunn said that “based on the overall net changes, we’re probably looking at 15 cents off the proposed mill rate of $22.30.”
Voters turned down warrant Article 25, a request for a $26,000 carbon steel body for the town’s 2002 Sterling plow truck.
Dunn reiterated to those present that the truck would either need a new body or extensive repairs, but the vote failed. The item was also passed over.
Dunn proposed an amendment to Article 26, to add $13,400 to the proposed $121,345 requested for Public Works, in order to cover repair costs for the plow truck. That motion also failed, and the article was carried with the original proposed cost.
Voters cited not enough time to think about the additional costs and not enough information on repair costs that kept them from voting in favor of the amendment.
Dunn was unsure of what will happen in the winter, when she said the town will need three plow trucks but without a fix, it will be down to two.
Article 6, a request for $16,550 for the Fire Department to purchase a flatbed trailer and skid unit to transport their UTV, and to purchase a used 4×4 flatbed truck, was debated for close to an hour. After a tie vote of hands, a private ballot vote was cast and the article carried.
The Budget Committee did not believe this was the best use of taxpayers’ money, and members of the committee present at Saturday’s meeting explained that they tried to do their best to keep taxes down and this didn’t seem necessary.
Voters opposed to the article also took issue with the fact that they are currently paying off the new fire station.
“We already have a UTV — we just can’t use it,” firefighter Joe Deane said. “We need a trailer to move it. We need to get water where we need to get water.”
He said the UTV is used mainly for places that are hard to reach, especially in the woods.
Article 45, a property tax levy limit, was voted down because the choices voters made Saturday meant there didn’t need to be a raise.
The Board of Selectmen recommended increasing the tax levy limit by $4,178.65 in the event that the municipal budget resulted in a tax commitment higher than the current limit.
Because voters turned down the $26,000 request for the carbon steel plow truck body, there was no need to raise the limit.