Norway schedules annual town meeting

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NORWAY — The Board of Selectmen voted Thursday night to hold the annual town meeting June 17, despite questions about whether the state will have its budget approved by then.

“If there’s fear of drastic changes at that point, someone could still make a motion to hold off on the money articles,” Selectmen Chairman Russ Newcomb said.

Town Manager David Holt, who was unable to attend Thursday’s meeting, previously told the board he feared what might happen to the town’s budget should voters approve it before the state passes its budget.

Holt unveiled a proposed $3.9 million municipal budget to selectmen and the Budget Committee in April, saying the town will see a nearly 12 percent decrease in spending if Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed cuts are approved.

The town budget would require a number of cuts in spending to make up for $250,000 in lost revenue sharing under the governor’s proposal. The proposed cuts include eliminating 1½ positions in the Highway Department to save $50,000; reducing hours in the Police Department to save $25,000; cutting hours at the town hall to save $15,000; eliminating all funding for provider agencies to save $25,000; and reducing funding for community agencies to save $12,500.

Towns are struggling with LePage’s proposed elimination of revenue-sharing — state taxes shared with towns — for the next two years. The proposal is part of a $6.2 billion spending plan that some officials say could decimate small town budgets.

While some towns, such as Waterford and Hebron, have gone ahead with their annual meetings, others, such as Norway, are questioning whether they should delay acting on money articles until the state budget is resolved.

Departments in Norway were asked to submit two budgets — one with the governor’s cuts and one without.

Holt has provided the board with a draft warrant of 46 articles but with no money recommendations. Both the Budget Committee and selectmen continue to meet to formulate their recommendations on department requests.

The election of town officers is expected to be held June 11, regardless of any future changes with the town meeting date.

Newcomb said that by sticking to the traditional town meeting date, the Monday after annual elections, the town report could be printed in time for the annual meeting.

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