STRONG — Selectmen agreed Tuesday night to hold a workshop next week to prepare final figures for the 2014 budget.

The workshop will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, at the Forster Memorial Building.

Selectmen will meet with the town auditor Tuesday, Jan. 28, to discuss possible accounting changes.

The Budget Committee must meet to review selectmen’s budget proposals by mid-February.

The budget will be presented to voters at the annual town meeting Saturday, March 1.

Selectmen asked RSU 58 directors Lois Barker and Rupert Pratt about any school budget information that might influence the town’s budget-planning process.

“We’re going to start our budget meeting right away,” Pratt said. “We’re working on things to keep costs down.”

The school board, according to Barker, has explored options to close Mt. Abram Regional High School and pay tuition to send them to another school. They also looked at options to close elementary schools and send those students to one new building.

The school board has found no significant savings, she said. At this point, Superintendent Brenda Stevens and Finance Director Luci Milewski have not received confirmation of state funding for Essential Programs and Services.

“You can pinch pennies to a point where it will cost you money,” Pratt said.

Selectmen agreed to dedicate the annual report to the Fire Department.

They also discussed a possible warrant article to pay for a new roof and siding on the Town Office section of the Forster Memorial Building. According to contractor Jeff Murphy, the siding can’t be replaced until the roof work is completed.

Selectmen have discussed appropriating funds to split the job into two parts, which could spread funding for the whole project over two years.

In other news, the Strong Public Library will hold a public hearing at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28, at the Forster Memorial Building. Selectmen have granted library director Cheryl McCleery’s request to hold the required hearing to explain updates that ensure safe Web browsing for children.

Congress enacted the Children’s Internet Protection Act in 2000 to address concerns about children’s access to obscene or harmful content over the Internet.

The Act imposes requirements on schools or libraries that receive discounts for Internet access through the E-Rate Program, which helps make access affordable for eligible districts and municipalities.The Federal Communications Commission has updated guidelines and requires McCleery to provide that information to the community.

Selectmen will meet at 7 p.m. after the hearing.


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