DIXFIELD – Eugene Skibitsky hopes to preserve the basic municipal services and keep a lid on tax rates as he develops the town’s 2010 budget.

“We’re faced with a governor cutting revenue sharing, tree growth, homestead reimbursement. It will be a challenge,” he said Tuesday afternoon.

The town manager revealed the municipal budget development process and time line at Monday’s selectmen’s meeting.

He said he doesn’t expect any employee cuts, but said it was early in the budget development process.

He and the town’s department heads will meet next month to develop a budget. Then on March 23, Skibitsky will present the draft at a joint meeting of selectmen and the Finance Committee. Both groups then can increase or cut the proposed figure.

Voters will decide whether to approve a selectmen’s recommendation or a Finance Committee recommendation at the annual town meeting set for May 28 at Dirigo Middle School.

This year’s municipal budget is $1,902,208. With the school and county taxes added in, that figure is $3,358,882. The tax rate is $16.25 per $1,000 valuation.

In other matters on Monday, following a 35-minute closed-door session with police Chief Richard Pickett, Sgt. Jeff Howe and patrolman Chuck Beale, Skitbitsky changed the status of Beale from full-time patrolman to full-time reserve officer.

The status change is the result of requirements by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy that calls for Beale to undergo police training. Skibitsky said Beale will likely complete the academy training beginning in August.

Also on Monday:

• Selectmen dedicated the annual report to Boston Post Cane holder Eva Taylor.

• Hired R.H.R. Smith of Buxton to conduct the 2008 water and sewer departments audit for $3,300 and to audit the town books for fiscal 2009 for $4,000.

• Learned that the environmental permit to allow dumping of snow at McGouldrick Park will likely be approved by the Department of Environmental Protection by the end of the month. Until then, the town will continue dumping snow in Mexico on a parcel owned by the Archibald family.

• Public works foreman Leo Jolin advised people to avoid plowing snow into public ways. He was authorized to contact police when such events occur.

• Waived a $25 fine for Stephen Arsenault, who failed to obtain a building permit before working on his home. Skibitsky said the waiver was granted because the town hasn’t done a good job of informing people that any modifications made to their property valued at $500 or more requires a $15 building permit.

• Accepted the resignation of code enforcement officer and emergency management director Sigrid Houle. The town will conduct an internal search for a replacement prior to advertising the positions.

• A joint meeting of selectmen from Dixfield and Mexico will take place at 5 p.m., Jan. 27, at Ludden Memorial Library. They’ll continue discussions on a possible merger or greater sharing of the towns’ police departments.

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