WEST PARIS — Voters sided with the town manager Saturday and approved a higher amount of money for the Fire Department than recommended by selectmen and the Budget Committee.
Town Manager Wade Rainey made a motion at the annual town meeting to budget $97,650, the same as last year. Selectmen and the Budget Committee recommended $87,955, saying they supported the Fire Department, but it came down to numbers. The Fire Department didn’t spend 5 percent of last year’s budget, Selectman Dale Piirainen said.
Fire Chief Troy Billings said there are more members in the department’s ranks, which means an increase in wages and some in training. Some money allocated for equipment wasn’t spent last year because he was able to swap out eight air packs with Fire Tech and Safety of New England at no cost.
Voters also passed a $1.1 million municipal budget. The operating budget totaled $1.05 million, and $140,000 was set aside in reserve accounts. The town’s contribution to Oxford County for 2018 is $99,441, up from $83,000. Local taxpayers will continue to pay $74,166 a month to SAD 17 until a new school budget is approved in June.
The current tax rate is $18.90 per $1,000 of assessed value and the fiscal 2019 rate will be calculated later, Rainey said.
In elections on Saturday, Select Board Chairman Mike Grass beat out former Selectman Denny Henderson in a vote of 51-22. Grass will serve a three-year term as selectman, assessor and overseer of the poor.
Natalie Andrews was the only candidate nominated for SAD 17 director and received three votes. She will serve a three-year term.
Mark Herrick and Clay Abbott were nominated and approved by voters to serve as Water District directors for a three-year term and two-year term, respectively.
After a brief discussion regarding concerns of access to the Little Androscoggin River, voters approved selectmen leasing part of the town’s gravel pit to Mid-West Price Company for additional log storage.
West Paris voters line up to vote for selectman at Saturday’s annual town meeting. Current Select Board Chairman Mike Grass beat former Selectman Denny Henderson for a three-year term. (Erin Place photo)