BUCKFIELD — Selectmen Robin Buswell and Martha Catevenis welcomed newly elected Selectman Warren Wright back to the board. Wright was elected to fill the vacancy created by the death of Selectman Rodney Allen.

Wright has lots of experience in town affairs. He has served on numerous committees and had a previous term as selectman.

“My intention is to fill out the remainder of this term. I hope at that time we will have good candidates for selectman, and I can go back to the Budget Committee.”

Town Manager Dana Lee said there are openings for volunteers on all of the town committees. There is a particular need to fill the vacancy in the Budget Committee left by Wright’s move to selectman.

Those interested in serving should contact the town office by Feb. 13. The new member of the Budget Committee will be appointed at the Feb. 19 selectmen’s meeting so they can participate in the Feb. 21 Budget Committee meeting.

Selectmen confirmed they agreed with the Budget Committee’s commitment to a flat budget. Chairman Buswell pointed out that the town pays RSU 10 $118,475.41 per month, 12 months per year. He said last year the payments were $98,000 per year.

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Lee reported on the impact of proposed changes to the state budget will have on the town, without considering the impact from the cut in state aid to education. The proposed cut of $155,000 in reimbursement to the town equates to a 1.83 mill increase in the tax rate. This would be a 9 percent increase in the tax rate from $20.40 to $22.23 per thousand dollars of assessed value. Lee said that some towns that have traditionally received more of their income from excise taxes will go up 30 percent.

Selectmen asked town residents to email the town office on changes they would like to see made in place of a tax increase.

Lee discussed a draft budget that would reduce town employee’s health benefits and not give them a raise. He indicated that it seemed unfair to expect no raises when a recent policy change had taken away from the employee’s accrued sick leave.

Buswell said, “We’ve taken a lot away from them, and I don’t like it,” referring to the loss in sick leave. “I am 100 percent behind our employees. They never get thanked and work for near nothing. I appreciate what they have done for us, and I am in favor of a raise.”

Warren reminded the board that a flat budget didn’t mean no raises, it just meant they would have to find the money elsewhere.

He said that it was wrong when SAD 29 joined RSU 10 and the teachers were all given a big raise to match the salary range in Rumford, then received a 2.7 percent raise the next three years, while town employees have only received one 3 percent raise in four years.


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