BUCKFIELD – The tax rate is expected to increase by $2, Town Manager Glen Holmes said Wednesday night at the annual town meeting.

Fifty voters passed a municipal budget of $1,534,567, which is $16,628.70 less than this year.

Selectmen developed a very tight budget, cutting costs wherever they could. They recommended cutting police coverage by $8,000. Kennard Hicks said he liked to see a police presence not only in the village but on his road.

Holmes admitted that incidents of mischief had gone down with better coverage.

The board’s recommendation of $10,000 was amended to $18,000 and approved.

Another article that elicited quite a bit of discussion was social services funding. Selectmen had recommended nothing. Wes Ackley said he was shocked that the board did not recommend funds for services so valuable to the town. The article was amended to provide $4,500, the same amount approved last year, and passed.

Last year, selectmen voted to form a committee to determine which agencies get money and how much. That information was not in the Annual Town Report, and it was suggested that the list be available in next year’s report.

A list was read from a member of the committee. Four social service representatives gave reports on services provided in Buckfield last year. There was general consensus that residents are getting a lot of services for their money.

By a vote of 18-17, residents passed an article asking for $5,000 to form an Economic Development Committee.

Voters approved a quit-claim deed for 22 acres of wetland off East Buckfield Road to a land trust in the future.

Before the meeting, a reception honored retiring fire Chief Steve Bly and welcomed new Chief Steve Campbell, who was formerly assistant chief. Bly had been on the Fire Department since 1985 and had served as chief since 1992.

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