Newry budget work nearly done

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NEWRY — Selectmen will convene an emergency board meeting at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, for final review of the Town Report prior to printing, Administrator Loretta Powers said Thursday by email.

The board will finish work on the 2014 municipal budget at its regular meeting at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, and approve its recommendations. The town meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, March 3.

As of Tuesday’s budget meeting, selectmen nearly finished the work, ending with a proposed budget of $792,330. Powers said that figure, which hasn’t been approved by the board, is likely to change. Among other things, the board is to revisit the summer roads budget at its Feb. 18 meeting, she said.

The budget doesn’t include the county tax or school assessments, which are done later in the year.

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Last year’s budget was $771,838, Powers said. Proposed improvements to the Grange hall, Town Office and Sunday River Schoolhouse, and wage hikes are among the increases, according to the budget worksheet.

Maintenance items and estimated costs for the Grange hall total $23,050 and include $9,000 for furnace replacement and $3,500 to repair chimney leaks, according to an estimate sheet assembled by Code Enforcement Officer Dave Bonney for the Grange hall, Town Office and schoolhouse.

The estimate for Town Office work is $16,050 and includes $3,500 for chimney leak repairs, $6,000 for security improvements and $6,000 for a new carpet. Estimates and information will be gathered on the security improvements — security cameras and new doors — to be presented to selectmen at their next meeting, Tuesday’s meeting minutes state.

Another estimated $2,000 is needed to repair interior water damage in the wall and ceiling of the Sunday River Schoolhouse, coupled with $250 for tree trimming and brush away from the building and roof.

According to draft minutes from Tuesday’s budget meeting, the Fire Department equipment account was reduced from $7,000 last year to $4,000; the training account was reduced from $4,000 last year to $2,500; and the operations and management account was lowered from $19,000 to $17,000.

After fire Chief Bruce Pierce reviewed and discussed the fire calls and history of wages, the last of which was in 2009, selectmen Chairman Wendy Hanscom motioned to raise the fire call wages to $15 per hour and $12 per hour for meetings. The stipends for officers will remain the same.

The wage increases were unanimously approved. Selectman Gary Wight, who is a member of the Fire Department, abstained.

Additionally, after the board was presented with a Maine Municipal Association salary survey for 2013, cost of living raises were discussed for town employees. The board agreed that the current IRS cost of living increase is 1.5 percent.

After discussion among selectmen, the board agreed to give town employees a 2 percent raise after the March 3 town meeting. The raises won’t be retroactive, the minutes state.

Selectmen also discussed Don Caitlin’s estimate of $2,250 to replace the town’s three welcome signs. The board agreed to take the money out of the highway budget.

In other town business, Bonney discussed the proposed Sunday River Road project’s bid information and requests for proposals.

Twenty-five packets were mailed out, but nine of the companies contacted believed the engineering could not be completed in the requested time frame. Selectmen agreed to bump the date for the engineering design to June 17, the minutes state.

Additionally, Deputy Clerk Anita Clark will look into getting a signboard for outside the Town Office to post events, registration times and other information.

In town meeting elections, which are done from the floor, Selectman Wendy Hanscom is seeking another three-year term. She is being challenged by Doug Webster.

For a three-year term on the SAD 44 board, Bonnie Largess is seeking re-election. She is being challenged by Bruce Pierce, Powers said.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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