MEXICO — Selectmen cut $12,000 from the Police Department budget and $500 from the Fire Department budget Tuesday night as they worked on a revised 2013-14 spending plan to present to voters.

On June 11, voters rejected all but three articles related to the 2013-14 proposed budget of $2.98 million.

At Tuesday’s budget-cutting session, $12,000 was pared from Police Department reserve account intended to buy a new cruiser in a year or two.

Police Chief James Theriault agreed to the reduction because he believes the current fleet can likely wait another year or so before a replacement.

The department budget stands at $400,161, and the reserve account at $5,000.

The Fire Department budget was trimmed $500, which would have provided annual physicals for every full-time and call-force firefighter.

Fire Chief Gary Wentzell said the reduction was possible because some of the younger call force members likely will not need a physical every year.

The department budget stands at $264,787, and the reserve account at $40,000 to go toward replacing a fire engine.

Budget Committee member Albert Aniel questioned whether the Police Department needed four officers and a chief. He also suggested that the town meet with representatives of neighboring Rumford and Dixfield to work toward a shared police force.

He said he believes the combined department would need 12 officers instead of the current 22.

Town Manager John Madigan said the town’s fifth officer must be kept for one more year because of an agreement with the federal government that provided funds for that officer for three years. As part of the agreement, the town agreed to pay for the position for one additional year. He said the town has already set aside the the funds for that position.

Theriault said crime in Mexico has increased substantially in recent years, including 34 domestic incidents in the first six months of this year.

Madigan also questioned the legality of a cap on municipal budgets.

Selectman Reggie Arsenault suggested holding another vote on the cap, and Town Clerk Penny Duguay said the signatures of 106 Mexico voters must be gathered to force another referendum.

The board and the Budget Committee are scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 10, to continue work on budget cuts.

A referendum on a revised budget is tentatively scheduled for July 30. If articles are again defeated, the town would operate on the 2012-13 budget.


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