Paris proposed budget in limbo

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PARIS — The Board of Selectmen on Monday couldn’t get a majority of members to recommend a 2011-12 budget to be presented at the annual town meeting June 18.

Selectmen Ted Kurtz and Jean Smart said they couldn’t endorse the budget as written.

Joining Kurtz and Smart at the session were fellow Selectmen Ray Glover and Kenneth West. Selectman Lloyd “Skip” Herrick was unable to attend.

Smart said she felt the budget should include an extra $15,000 requested by Norway-Paris Solid Waste.

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“We have a legal contract with the town of Norway for a solid waste entity,” Smart said. She said she was concerned about cutbacks at the Frost Hill landfill in Norway.

“I think, if we do not raise that additional $15,000 this year, we will have to raise it next year,” she argued.

Kurtz said the proposed municipal budget wasn’t consistent with the no-increase preference that  selectmen sought.

“The select board voted for a flat-line budget for the town,” he said. “Now, I will let other people on the board say what they intended by that, but what I meant was that last year’s budget was $3.346 (million).”

The current proposed budget is $3.396 million.

Kurtz has opposed counting $50,000 taken from a reserve account last year as part of that budget. The proposed $3.39 million budget approved by the committee takes $50,000 from a reserve fund to help pay for a new $180,000 truck for the Highway Department.

“This budget’s going to raise the mill rate,” he said Monday.

“Our tax base is shrinking. Actual property values are shrinking,” he said.

Kurtz said he hasn’t heard a good argument on why the Highway Department needs a new truck. “I would like, as a member of the board … to know the economics of that situation,” he said.

“No one has made the case to me for a new truck this year.”

Town Manager Phil Tarr said Wednesday that he is preparing a cost-benefit analysis for the new highway truck. “That’s not an unreasonable question, and it deserves a reasonable answer,” he said.

He said the truck it would replace is from the 1980s and needs occasional repairs. It’s used as a backup but still gets heavy use.

The replacement truck would serve as a frontline truck, he said, and a truck currently used as one of the main trucks would be moved to a backup position. The trucks see their heaviest use plowing and salting roads in the winter, he said.

Tarr said he will also prepare an alternate budget with an extra $15,000 allocated to Norway-Paris Solid Waste, taken piecemeal from other town funds. That budget will be presented as an alternative to the current budget at the May 23 selectmen’s meeting.

treaves@sunjournal.com

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