Sabattus preparing for annual meeting

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SABATTUS – The annual town meeting is slated for later this month, but town officials are not predicting the tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year.

Town Administrator Tracy Fabrizio said it’s clearly “too early to tell at this time what the mill rate will be. We have had a lot of last-second reviews and changes made to the town warrant.”

Causing some hostility last week at the selectmen’s meeting was the recurring payment mandated by the state for the Essential Programs and Services Funding Act. State Rep. Scott Lansley said the town, by law, has to pass this to be compliant with state regulations.

This year the state requires the town to pay an increase of 8 percent, bringing the total to $1,062,011.

This act constitutes the town’s contribution to the total cost of funding public education from kindergarten to grade eight.

Also under the EPS Funding Act, the school committee is asking for an additional $702,556, which exceeds the state’s four-year phase-in model by $363,987.

“I urge taxpayers to vote down the request for $702,556 and only pay the required amount of $338,569,” Lansley said. “The school board should explain why there is such an increase requested.”

Selectmen and the Budget Committee agree with Rep. Lansley.

One of the articles the town will be voting on May 20 is whether to contract with the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department or maintain its local police department.

Selectmen have discussed possibly having an open forum to address this issue so people are clearly informed of the choices before the town meeting. No date has been set.

Selectmen’s Chairman Guy Desjardins said this decision should not be an issue for Sabattus. “People really like their local Police Department here.”

If voted to raise and appropriate $150,000, the town will pay its third of 10 payments for its town municipal building. Selectman Gino Camardese said the town asks residents to pay $150,000 instead of the minimum payment of $89,400. “By doing this, it should prevent the town from paying $1 million in interest,” he said.

This year the town will vote whether to raise and appropriate $50,893.25 for the final payment of its firetruck loan payment. The Budget Committee reported that it is $1,786.50 less than last year.

Public Works will be busy this year paving if taxpayers vote to pay $50,000 for the rebuilding of Sutherland Pond Road. According to the the Budget Committee, that is an increase of $20,000 from last year.

The annual town meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 20, at the municipal town building. Copies of the town warrant can be found on the Budget Committee’s Web site www.budgetcommittee.sabattus.net

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