Paris selectmen tweak proposed budget before approval

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PARIS — Selectmen approved a proposed 2011-12 budget Monday after making some last-minute changes.

The amount to be raised from taxes is $3,346,184, the same amount recommended by the Budget Committee. However, $15,000 earmarked for a reserve account to buy a new plow truck was moved to the Norway-Paris Solid Waste budget, and $4,772 set for debt retirement was moved to animal control to pay for higher costs incurred due to closure of the Allen Hill Animal Shelter in Oxford.

Town Manager Phil Tarr brought an alternate budget requested by Selectman Jean Smart with an extra $15,000 for Norway-Paris Solid Waste, with the funds taken from other accounts.

Controversy over the planned purchase of a new $180,000 Highway Department truck led to a debate over the urgency of the purchase. Selectmen Smart and Ted Kurtz expressed doubts that the truck was necessary, and said material submitted by Tarr wasn’t convincing.

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“I do not see a cost analysis at all, frankly,” Smart said. She argued that because the truck set to be replaced was a backup truck, its replacement could wait.

Tarr argued that postponing the truck purchase would drive up the 2012-13 budget.

“You can put this off, and it’s going to come back and be revisited next year, along with a sidewalk machine, which is scheduled for either next year or the year after, and a backhoe,” Tarr said.

Kurtz said striking the truck from the budget could give tax relief to Paris residents. “Let’s reduce the budget. That’s not a sin.”

Selectman Lloyd “Skip” Herrick said he was concerned about passing the cost of the truck to later years. “I think we’re selling the taxpayers short by not preparing,” he argued.

In the end, selectmen voted to put $115,000 of the $130,000 budgeted for the truck into a capital reserve account. The other $15,000 was moved to the Norway-Paris Solid Waste budget.

The plan was to raise $130,000 from taxes and take the remaining $50,000 from a reserve account. Adding $115,000 to the account leaves open the possibility of buying a new plow truck, but the town would have to find a better deal or find another source for the $15,000.

Paris residents will vote on the municipal budget at the town meeting June 18.

treaves@sunjournal.com

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