NORWAY — Town Manager David Holt told selectmen the next fiscal year's budget will require sacrifices from everyone, but the pain may not be equal.
Holt told board members at their Thursday meeting that two budgets will be developed for each department for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The first budget will provide an opportunity for all departments and agencies to make their requests, and the second will reflect the proposed cutbacks under Gov. Paul LePage's budget proposal.
“We all suspect the final decision will be made between the two reports,” Holt said. The reports would place “parameters” on the budget, and the end result will probably be somewhere in the middle.
“We'll try to spread the sacrifices around, but it won't be perfectly even,” Holt said.
In January, Holt told selectmen that department heads had been asked to plan for cuts of at least 10 percent in the next fiscal year.
At that time, Holt said Norway would lose $250,000 in state revenue sharing; $113,472 from the Homestead Exemption; and $80,000 in personal property taxes. Coupled with a $285,177 projected increase in the SAD 17 budget, the first year impact on the town's budget could be much as $729,000. He called it “the perfect storm.”
The number does not include the loss of truck excise taxes proposed by the LePage administration.
Holt said he has spoken to department heads about creating the two budgets and believes it is a “workable” approach.
Holt said realistically there will probably be little or no money for items such as membership in the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, Norway Downtown, the Lakes Association and provider agencies.
The goal is to retain employees and provide necessary services.
“We'll try not to do layoffs of people who depend on their jobs,” he said.
Paying for road maintenance will probably come down to presenting a high and low figure to town meeting voters and let them decide what to do.
"My opinion is not to do nothing,” he said.
“I've told the highway department the days of buying a new truck every year are over,” he said.
Holt said he openly speculated about the budget in order to get feedback from employees, department heads and the community. He is also looking at other ways, such as changes in employee health insurance, to reduce the financial impact to taxpayers.
He said even though the town can make changes that hurt a lot, “it still only scratches the surface of what is necessary.”
Holt said the state should share equally in reductions because the towns are being asked to “do too much.”
“I don't think whining is appropriate, but what we're being asked to do is more than the state is,” he said.