Mexico Planning Board considers splitting Public Safety budget

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MEXICO — The Planning Board agreed Thursday evening to ask Town Manager John Madigan if it should begin amending the referendum town meeting ordinance to split the Public Safety budget into police and fire department budgets.

The issue was brought up at the Sept. 23 selectmen meeting after fire Chief Gary Wentzell said some people in his department wanted to know what to do to have the Fire Department budget by itself for the upcoming year.

“We’ve asked about it before, and all of us seem to think it’d be in our best interest to do it that way,” Wentzell said.

Town Manager John Madigan said it could be accomplished through an amendment to the referendum town meeting ordinance.

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“That spells out the categories that people vote on,” Madigan said. “After you amend it, you would put it before the voters.”

Member Reggie Arsenault said if the Planning Board agrees to draft an ordinance splitting Public Safety into separate articles, it “could open Pandora’s box.”

“People may say that, ‘If you want to split one article, why not do the rest?’” Arsenault said. “Instead of voting on seven or eight articles, we could end up voting on 30 different articles like Rumford.”

Planning Board Chairman Dan Casey said, “If the selectmen want us to do an ordinance, that’s OK, but I don’t think it should just be Public Safety that we’re splitting up. We might as well do them all.”

Member Mabel Merrill said she’s heard from a lot of people that they want the departments split up.

“I think when they see the money split up that way, they feel like they can see if their money is being used properly,” she said.

Casey suggested they ask Madigan if they should begin amending the ordinance.

Since the Planning Board did not have a quorum at the start of the meeting, no official decisions were made.

mdaigle@sunjournal.com

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