Public hearing on proposed $2.2M budget, warrant articles scheduled

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LIVERMORE FALLS — Selectmen will hold a public hearing on April 20 on a proposed $2.18 million budget to run municipal government from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011. They will also review three warrant articles pertaining to amending the Waste Water Ordinance, asking residents if they want selectmen to explore alternatives for police coverage, and if they want to use $30,000 from the town’s undesignated surplus fund to attend to dangerous buildings.

The wastewater or sewer ordinance asks voters if they want costs of installing, connecting and maintaining the sewer line up to the main sewer connection to be borne by building owners. Selectmen in their capacity as sewer trustees had previously changed the ordinance to reflect this owner expense. But the way it was amended came under scrutiny and legal counsel advised selectmen to take the proposed change to town meeting, Town Manager Jim Chaousis said.

Both the selectmen and the Budget Committee have different budget proposals they will put forth to voters in referendum form on Tuesday, June 8. The Committee is proposing a budget of $2.01 million budget. The difference between the two budgets is $169,625.

However, selectmen have said their figure could change after listening to members of the public at the hearing at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 20, in the downstairs auditorium at the Treat Memorial Library.

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Both spending plans are more than $500,000 less that the current $2.7 million budget. The difference between the two budgets had been previously estimated to be $1.30 to $1.50 per $1,000 valuation of property in the tax rate.

The town’s only paper mill shut down in June 2009 and the town is struggling with a loss of valuation and tax revenue.

Town Manager Jim Chaousis had recommended reductions to police, fire and public works departments’ initial proposed budgets.

Police Chief Ernie Steward had revised his budget to meet Chaousis’ reductions but in a different way, seeking to keep a police officer instead of eliminating one. Steward’s proposal would have reduced an administrative position to part-time.

Selectmen are proposing to keep the Police Department at its current capacity and keep an administrative assistant for the Department. The assistant was the former dispatch supervisor before residents voted to eliminate emergency dispatch services in town in September, and have it provided by Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department .

The Budget Committee’s plan would eliminate two police officers and keep the administrative assistant as a cost-saving measure.

The Police Department’s budget is proposed at $379,048, which is down from the current $389,000 budget. The new proposal includes money for items that had previously been shared in the dispatch budget but are required for law enforcement operations.

The Budget Committee plan would reduce the department’s budget to $323,552.

The Budget Committee is also suggesting cuts to the Fire and the Public Works department budgets

Selectmen are proposing $87,705 for the Fire Department, about $13,000 less than the original request and the Budget Committee is suggesting $65,555 including an $8,000 reduction in wages.

The Department had requested a $1-an-hour raise for firefighters to go from $8 to $9 an hour for regular firefighters, and from $9 to $10 an hour for officers.

Selectmen are recommending $340,025 for public works while the Committee recommends $291,000.

Supervisor Nichols said those cuts would mean no sweeping or snow removal would be done.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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