Minot selectmen discuss budget cuts, paving

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MINOT — Town Administrator Arlan Saunders told selectmen Tuesday that the town Budget Committee had voted to recommend, as written, all but four of the funding articles up for a vote at the March 2 annual town meeting.

“The Budget Committee voted down money for the addition to the town garage and the fire station addition, as well as the Summer Enrichment Program and agency donations,” Saunders said.

Selectmen had proposed funding a major addition to Central Fire Station, estimated to cost $536,000, and to finance it over 10 years. They also proposed a 38- by 44-foot addition to the town garage, constructed by the town road crew, with materials estimated to cost $35,000.

The board had also recommended no funding for the Summer Enrichment Program, which is not going to operate this summer, but does have an outstanding bill for transportation from RSU 16. It also recommended no funding for various charitable agencies.

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The Budget Committee’s decisions came as no surprise to selectmen, who, in discussions which followed, wondered whether their efforts to maintain a reasonable summer road-paving program should be pursued, given the current economic news coming out of Augusta.

Selectmen noted that, while nothing is settled, it appears the town will see a significant reduction in state revenue sharing, homestead exemption, veterans exemption and tree growth.

Selectman Eda Tripp said revenue sharing could be going down by $200,000.

“I don’t know, but I can tell you we’re going to have to be extremely careful what we do at town meeting,” Tripp said.

Selectman Dean Campbell noted that they had budgeted an additional $87,000 for paving this year, an amount that would allow the town to pave all its roads every 14 or 15 years.

“We may have cut all capital projects, to do what we got to do,” Campbell said.

Selectman Dan Callahan balked at such drastic action.

“If we get down just to patching roads, it won’t be long before we’ll be in real trouble,” Callahan said.

Campbell also noted that he and Selectman Dan Gilpatric had attended a meeting with school officials recently, and, while they appeared well intentioned, they didn’t seem to understand what’s going on.

“We pointed out that what Minot is paying for schools has doubled in the past 10 years, while the rest of the budget has barely gone up,” Campbell said. “They’re looking at a $300,000 increase, just for what they pay their teachers. It’s a double whammy.” 

In other business, selectmen signed the Public Safety Answering Point/Dispatch agreement with the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department; made it known that the Town Office would be closed all day, Thursday, Jan. 31, to close out the town’s fiscal year; and agreed to hold a public hearing on a revised “Flood Plain Management Ordinance” on Feb. 19, the ordinance to be taken to the March 2 town meeting.

Saunders also reported that Code Enforcement Officer Ken Pratt has determined that the rental property at 17 Lower Road is in violation of town ordinance and is taking appropriate steps to remedy the situation, including notifying the property owner, by certified mail, of steps being taken.

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