Poland gets good report on finances

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POLAND — Selectmen on Wednesday were told by auditor Ron Smith that the town’s financial situation is good.

He recalled how, not so long ago, the town was in distress and quite unaware that it had spent more than $1 million above what it had taken in.

But through a combination of careful planning and frugality, Smith estimated the town now had enough money on hand for 75 days, even if no money was coming in.

“I advise towns to have reserves for between 30 and 90 days,” Smith said. “You are up.”

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In addition to reserve funds for running the town, Smith noted Poland still had $900,000 available in its tax-increment financing accounts — tax money earmarked for improvements in specified sections of town.

The only downside that Smith said bore watching was that revenue collections were down, with property tax collections lagging and excise taxes coming in below estimates.

“Overall, given the state of the economy, I’d say you are weathering the storm,” Smith said.

He agreed to assist the town as it moved to fully incorporate the Ricker Memorial Library as a town department and to help the town determine whether confidentiality rules were violated when information regarding the General Assistance program and the Hackett Fund apparently was leaked.

In other business, selectmen:

* Accepted proposed revisions to the personnel policy.

* Set a public hearing on proposed changes to the fee schedule for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15.

* Asked Town Manager Rosemary Roy to contact Ricker Library trustees to determine whether Jan. 29 would be a suitable date for a workshop outlining a plan of action for drawing the library under the municipal umbrella.

* Named Budget Committee members Walter Gallagher and Erland Torrey as representatives to assist Regional School Unit 16 in preparing the school district’s 2013-14 budget.

Selectmen took no action on citizens’ letters to the board regarding establishing a fireworks ordinance and an ordinance that would limit heavy loads on certain town roads.

Roy told the board she would place advertisements seeking a new public works director in the next week. Roy said she appointed Mike Merrill as interim public works director, filling in for Jim Scott, who has left town employment.

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