Budget Committee members have asked for multiple budgets.

LIVERMORE FALLS – Conflicting information stalled selectmen and the Budget Committee Monday night as members again attempted to review the proposed police and dispatch budgets for 2003-04.

Faced with variables including an eight- to 24-hour local dispatch, Budget Committee Chairman Bernal Lake said the budget proposals given to them should just be thrown away.

“It’s a big waste of time to go over it and then change,” he said, as Selectman Clayton Putnam said he advocated going with the county for dispatch.

Putnam said Livermore Falls is the only town its size in Androscoggin County that has its own 24-hour dispatch.

“The whole issue is the tax rate. Can we afford a service that we can get somewhere else for less?” he asked.

Having the county take over would save money, but it would not be that simple, said Police Chief Ernest Steward Jr., who maintained there would be a cost along with confusion for emergency personnel and residents.

“No one knows how much a dispatcher does,” said Dispatcher Sherry Givens. She said her department sometimes runs traffic for the county because the officers can’t reach their dispatch as it is too busy, or there is poor reception.

“There are about 50 things the dispatchers do. It’s not just police, ambulance and fire,” said Lt. Tom Gould. “You won’t have to train us, you’ll have to train the public,” he commented.

As the debate of savings vs. services continued, one committeeman left the meeting room. “Taxes have doubled in eleven years; this cannot keep going,” said Peter Riordan as he left. “The best thing that could happen to me is for my house to burn tonight, and I move out of town.”

Another agreed with Riordan’s concern for the tax rate. “At 24 mills, you can’t afford to sell, and you can’t afford to live here,” said Russell Flagg. “You have to make (the mill rate) more attractive.”

When Lake complained about the discussion dragging on, Committeeman Allie Bond responded. “A lot of this talk is because you’re educating the ignorant; I’ve learned a lot; most of us don’t know what’s going on.”

Department heads will have to sharpen their pencils before next Monday’s meeting, as Budget Committee members have asked for multiple budgets, including office staff at both 32 and 35 hours per week, transfer station at 32 hours, highway with four men or five men, dispatch covering one or two shifts, 24-hour coverage, and so on.

Selectmen will hold that meeting in the library auditorium and will open with a hearing on cable TV from 6 to 7 p.m. followed by budget discussion beginning at 7 o’clock.

Budgets will be reviewed in this order, according to Town Manager Alan Gove: police, dispatch, highway, administration, Fire Department, buildings and grounds, library, debt, agencies and elected officials.


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