TURNER — One-hundred registered voters turned out Saturday in the Leavitt Area High School cafeteria to approve expenditures of $2.35 million in a five-hour town meeting. This represents a $12,660 reduction from the budget approved last year.

Moderator Ike Goodwin conducted an orderly meeting.

Selectmen and the Budget Committee pointed out that, because of uncertainty over the amount of state reimbursement to expect, they tried to cut as much as possible from their proposed budgets.

Still, the voters approved more than recommended on several articles. The approved budget was $78,701 more than recommended by the Budget Committee and $29,801 more than recommended by selectmen. The major difference between the Budget Committee’s and the Selectmen’s recommendation was the selectmen recommended $50,000 more for the Highway Equipment Reserve.

As usual in many towns, the discussion of some of the smaller articles drew more comment than did some of the larger ones. It took nearly15 minutes to decide to spend $12,551 on social services while most of the large articles had little or no debate.

Before getting down to the business of voting on the 58 articles in the town warrant, state Sen. Garrett Mason and state Rep. Jeff Timberlake spoke to the citizens.

Timberlake said that he expected about a 20 percent reduction in state reimbursements. “Augusta has money problems,” he said. “I believe they should raise gas and sales taxes to provide the promised revenue-sharing.” Nodding to the selectmen, he continued, “They do not spend it as wisely as you fellows spend it.” Timberlake was a Turner selectman before assuming the state office.

The proposed SAD 52 budget of $23.6 million was presented. This budget will be finalized at a public hearing at 6 p.m. May 7 in the Leavitt Area High School auditorium. The budget set at that meeting will be voted on by referendum on May 21. Turner voters can cast their ballots from 1 to 7 p.m. at the Town Office.

Nearly 20 minutes were spent discussing the article on the Fire Equipment Reserve. The Fire Department asked for $35,000; the Budget Committee and selectmen recommended $10,000. Newly elected Selectman Dennis Richardson spoke for the higher amount.

“We badly need a replacement tanker,” he said. “The top of the tank leaks and every time you put on the brakes, water spills out and freezes.”

Selectman Kurt Youland said he had a surplus oil tanker that he would sell to the Fire Department for $7,500 if they would agree to the $10,000 proposal.

Selectman Ralph Caldwell said, “I have served on the Turner Fire Department for 36 years. We bought a nice pumper this year. I think we can squeak by this year for $10,000.”

The $35,000 request was approved.

The Highway Equipment Reserve request was $125,000. Selectmen recommended $100,000 and the Budget Committee recommended $50,000.

Caldwell pointed out that the town was not putting away enough to replace the highway equipment on a 10-year rotation. He said the town has $1.5 million in highway equipment that is used regularly in corrosive conditions, while it has less than $400,000 in fire equipment.

Budget Committee Chairman Ron Shaw said, “We want to cut down this year since we don’t know what the state reduction will be. I agree that $100,000 is not enough to keep up.”

Voters approved $100,000 for the Highway Equipment Reserve.

Asked why selectmen and the Budget Committee recommended increasing the contribution to the Western Maine Veterans Advisory Committee from $175 to $501, Board of Selectmen Chairman Angelo Terreri said, “We respect our veterans and thought it was the right thing to do.” The organization provides services to veterans.

Two amendments to the Peddlers Ordinance were on the warrant. Both would have eliminated some of the more restrictive provisions of the original ordinance. Voters approved the less restrictive of the amendments. Residents will no longer be required to go through the site-plan review process to sell produce or firewood from their yards.

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