Budget proposal unveiled

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NORWAY – Town Manager David Holt said the 2007 proposed budget of $2.1 million is slightly higher than this year’s and includes $12,000 for the annual audit. The latter figure is double what was allotted for fiscal year 2006.

The higher amount will pay for a more thorough accounting of records after the town’s community development director was charged with taking thousands of dollars in grant funds over the past three years.

The net increase in the budget is expected to be 2.49 percent, Holt said, which brings the spending plan to $2,134,340. A volunteer Budget Committee will meet Monday evenings to fine-tune the budget in preparation for the annual town meeting in mid-June.

Holt also said the town must begin paying for some projects that were approved in 2005.

“The main cost is the $1 million townspeople approved last year to fix roads,” he said. “We took out a five-year loan, and this is the first year we pay that off.”

The first payment will be about $219,000.

Last year, voters also approved buying a firetruck and a $65,000 highway truck and paying for them over two years. But Holt is recommending that the firetruck reserve fund be tapped to cover the remainder of the firetruck, with a commitment to increase payments to the fund in the coming years.

“People who benefit from the firetruck should pay for it,” Holt said at last week’s selectmen’s meeting, adding that it is people in the future who will be helped by the truck and therefore they should pay for it over the next few years by replenishing the reserve.

The highway truck needs a plow, sander and other attachments that will cost about $76,000.

An emergency management department is being added to respond “to the federal mandates for training and increased funding opportunities as a result of 911 and the Louisiana disaster,” Holt wrote in the budget report.

The sum of $950 is being proposed to cover office supplies and to slightly boost the salary of town employee Bonnie Seames. She will apply for grants and other training opportunities for first responders.

Another change Holt is proposing is putting such community service agencies as the Oxford Hills Growth Council and the Chamber of Commerce into a budget category called “community development and preservation.”

Social service agencies such as Community Concepts and the American Red Cross and others will continue to be in a category called “provider agency.”

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