Residents pass $1.89 million municipal budget

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DIXFIELD — Voters approved a nearly $2 million municipal budget at the annual town meeting Thursday night.

The $1.89 million for 2010-11 is about $25,000 less than this year’s budget.

Town Manager Eugene Skibitsky estimated the tax rate will likely rise by about $1 from the current $16.25 per $1,000 of valuation. The rise is due to a 17 percent reduction in revenues to the town that includes a decrease of 43 percent from state revenue sharing.

Some taxpayers may also be hit with an additional increase because the state Homestead Exemption has been reduced to $10,000 from the original $13,000.

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The 50 or so residents who turned out for the meeting took a close look at many of the articles, and made amendments to some.

Those amendments that passed included a reduction of $7,500 from the selectmen’s recommended amount of $463,193 for the Public Works Department on a motion by Dan McKay. Instead, residents voted 23-18 for the Finance Committee’s recommendation of $455,765.

Skibitsky also offered an amendment based on information he received after the town meeting warrant was printed. That called for a more than $11,000 reduction in the cost of insurances from about $41,000 to $30,000

Several others also motioned for a variety of amendments, but all were defeated.

The majority approved a recommendation to enter into an agreement with neighboring Wilton for the purchase of a new fire truck for the East Dixfield Fire Co. Residents authorized borrowing up to $100,000 as its share, providing the town of Wilton also approves borrowing the same amount.

The East Dixfield Fire Co. services both Dixfield and Wilton.

Skibitsky said the town may apply some surplus funds toward the tax liability.

The first half of property taxes will be due by Sept. 15 and the second half will be due by April 15, 2011.

Residents also tabled action on an article that called for installing a street light at the top of Hall Hill so research can be done on installing a solar-powered light instead.

Prior to the beginning of the town meeting, longtime resident and business owner Ralph Clarke was honored as this year’s Distinguished Citizen of the Year.

Selectmen Chairwoman Bettina Martin said Clarke had served the town more than four decades.

“He has shown a genuine concern for the town and its people and has been actively involved in community affairs,” Martin said.

The many organizations Clarke has participated in include the Planning Board, Water Advisory Committee, Outdoor Market Committee, the local Rotary Club, Lions Club, Masonic Lodge, and several others. He has also served as town meeting moderator and was active in several youth organizations.

eadams@sunjournal.com

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