MONMOUTH — The fifth time was the charm for a stubborn 2009-10 police budget for the town.
Voters passed a measure Tuesday by a vote of 482-410 approving a new budget for the Police Department.
The languishing passage held up town officials' efforts to set a new tax rate. Selectmen are expected to do that on Wednesday when they meet, said Deputy Town Clerk Carrie Ivey.
Over the past four votes, town leaders adjusted the proposed
budget up and down, responding to input from townspeople and trying to
find a figure that would receive a majority vote.
The budget before voters Tuesday was $272,088, about $25,000
less than last year's budget, but about $15,000 more than the proposal
placed before residents at the last vote. The $15,000 was added in
response to residents who criticized the elimination of Saturday and
Sunday patrol officers. The patrols are restored under the new budget
Although the police budget would not increase
property taxes, the total tax rate is expected to increase over last year, Ivey said.
Unable to set a tax rate and send out tax bills, the town had been borrowing to pay municipal bills
until a police budget was approved.
Voting took place from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Cumston Hall.
Police Chief Robert Annese, who came under fire last week after it was learned he had tried to use his authority to learn who had rented a post office box used to gather feedback on the Police Department, was reportedly on leave, according to a report published Tuesday in the Kennebec Journal. The report said a recorded greeting on Annese's cell phone said he was out on leave until Dec. 27 and would be back at his office on Dec. 28.
Resident Ray Simond reported Annese's actions to the state's Office of the Attorney General after he discovered Annese had been asking about his post office box. Simond said he had placed an ad in a community newspaper soliciting comments about the department. He asked the Attorney General's Office to investigate whether Annese misused his authority, the newspaper report said.