Mexico selectmen and Town Manager Jack Gaudet work on the 2018-19 municipal budget recently. From left are Reggie Arsenault, TJ Williams, Byron Ouellette, Cliff Stewart, Chairman Richie Philbrick and Gaudet. (Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times)
MEXICO — Town officials are proposing a $4.47 million municipal budget for 2018-19, an increase of $40,393 over this fiscal year, Town Manager Jack Gaudet said.
He said the town’s share of the Oxford County budget is up by $11,549, or 12.69 percent, and the Regional School Unit 10’s assessment of $56,000 more for Mexico, a 3.77 percent increase.
Based on last year’s figures, Gaudet said, the tax rate would climb 75 cents per thousand dollars of property value. The rate is $28.50.
The goal was a municipal budget of $3.13 million, the same as last year.
“We didn’t want an increase at all, so that we wouldn’t have to raise the mill rate,” Gaudet said. “But the biggest thing that’s driving this is the school budget. It’s up about $70,000 last year and another $56,000 for this year.”
The budget-setting process revealed the need to address aging highway equipment and maintenance of town buildings.
John Blais, lead man for Public Works, said the department has equipment needs: a drive shaft for the 15-year-old loader, two front tires for $2,000 each and rims; another sidewalk plow; and an engine for the 2012 International plow truck.
The board agreed with Selectman Cliff Stewart’s recommendation to cut $20,000 of the recommended $50,000 for road construction funds, and added $10,000 to the recommended $55,000 for the capital equipment account.
Gaudet said selectmen approved a $22,637 quote from Morrison Motors of Mexico for a rebuilt engine and other work on International truck.
The board also approved a bid from Lenny Bolduc Carpentry of Peru to install six energy-efficient windows downstairs at the Town Hall. The total cost of the project is $3,996.
Other facilities and equipment issues reported include a broken boiler in the Public Works garage, a leak in the roof over the Police Department, possible lease/purchase of a sidewalk plow, and possible replacement of a loader, which could cost about $125,000.
The 2018-19 budget includes union contract pay increases of 1.5 percent for Public Works and $1 an hour for police officers.
Selectmen and the Budget Committee recommend merit increases of $1,200 to Police Chief Roy Hodsdon and $18 per week for each of the three drivers for the Fire Department. Fire Chief Richard Jones refused a merit increase.
They also added $10 per week to the on-all pay for Blais.
Mexico Library Director Heather Rogers, who has an master’s degree in English with a concentration in literature, submitted a budget that increases her pay by $4 an hour to $16.30 per hour for 34 hours per week.
After discussion and two failed votes on a smaller pay increase, selectmen voted 3-2 to a 70-cent hike to $13 an hour for Rogers.
The budget will go to voters June 12 downstairs in the Town Hall.