MEXICO – Voters here will know by Wednesday just what questions they will be asked in a straw poll regarding the development of the 2009 municipal budget.

The straw poll will take place during the Nov. 4 general election.

Selectmen at a special meeting Monday afternoon heard suggestions from the budget committee that, selectmen said, asked the same thing they were asking.

That is, “do you want to keep the same level of services for the following departments even if it means additional tax dollars?” People can answer yes or no individually to funding for the highway, police, fire, town office, library and recreation departments.

Budget Committee members Marge Richard and Gary Coffin said one of their questions, “would you support cost-cutting in some services without eliminating any department?” is slightly different.

Board Chairwoman Barbara Laramee said she would speak with Budget Committee Chairwoman Monique Aniel, to try to work out the perceived differences between the two boards.

Richard and Coffin also want the town to place Budget Committee recommendations for funding requests on the budget ballot alongside those recommended by selectmen.

Town Manager John Madigan said only towns with a charter can place both proposed figures on a ballot, according to attorneys from the Maine Municipal Association.

Since Mexico does not have a charter, Budget Committee recommendations would not be allowed.

To form a charter would require election of a charter commission, money for the commission to do its work, and about two years to create a document before residents would vote on it, Madigan said.

Coffin wants the town to ask voters if they want to create a charter commission.

Selectmen do not want to create a charter for the town. However, Madigan said a petition requesting a question about whether to create a charter could force a local referendum question. The petition would be required to have the signatures of 10 percent of voters who cast ballots during the last governor’s election.

“Selectmen don’t have to accept the petition if it is not properly worded,” Madigan said.

Also at Monday’s special meeting, the board approved a proposal by Generations manager Karla Blackman to devise a written agreement with personal trainer Dawson Walton for offering fee-related services at the fitness center. Generations is owned by the town and is part of the municipal recreation department.

Members pay $30 monthly to use the fitness equipment provided. Generations management receives 70 percent of the proceeds while the town receives 30 percent.

The board will meet with the two within a couple of months to learn whether the agreement is working.


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