MEXICO — Three members of the Budget Committee walked out of Tuesday night’s meeting with selectmen following a disagreement over how the town’s tax cap ordinance would be implemented.

The tax cap ordinance, which was drafted by Budget Committee member Albert Aniel in 2013 and approved by voters, states the local operating costs of the town would be capped at $2,726,731, a 10 percent decrease from the previous year.

According to the ordinance, local operating costs is defined as “all components of the municipal budget to be raised through taxation, excluding state, county and school assessments.”

Town Manager John Madigan said before the 2013 town meeting that the town lawyer’s opinion was that the ordinance would not take effect until the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Madigan read a cover letter at Tuesday’s meeting and said, “The town must must also meet financial obligations imposed upon it by applicable law or by contract.”

“The town’s municipal property tax levy is already limited by state law known as LD-1,” Madigan said in his cover letter. “The amount authorized for the 2014-2015 fiscal year (by LD-1) is $1,889,480.77. That amount is well within the limits imposed by the ‘Budget Proposal Ordinance.’”

After reading the cover letter, Madigan said Budget Committee members Aniel, Betty Barrett and Marjorie Richards walked out of the meeting.

“Under their own definition, I felt that my budget proposal met the standards of the ordinance,” Madigan said Tuesday afternoon. “The people responsible for drafting the ordinance thought that the tax cap would provide a 10 percent cut across the board, but that’s not at all what the ordinance said.”

Richards said Tuesday afternoon that she was “not happy at all” with the situation.

“A lot of people put a lot of work into getting that tax cap ordinance ready, whether it was drafting it or collecting the signatures,” she said. “When we put the ordinance before the townspeople, they voted by a 3-1 ratio to approve it. Now, the selectmen and the town manager are just blowing off the people.

“John claims our ordinance was not clear enough, so he doesn’t have to meet that number,” Richards said. “We put that ordinance before the town lawyer and before the Maine Municipal Association, and if it wasn’t clear enough it wouldn’t have been put before the people.”

Richards said she was disappointed there was “not one selectman there man enough to speak up and say something.

“I just feel hurt that the people voted something like this through and it’s being thrown aside,” Richards said.

Although Richards, Aniel and Barrett walked out of the meeting, Richards said they have not yet resigned from the Budget Committee.

“Before I resign, I want to ask each selectman face-to-face whether they support John Madigan’s budget,” Richards said. “If they do, then we’ll submit our letters of resignation.”

Richards said later, “As soon as the recall petition is approved by the people in June,” she would consider “circulating a petition for the recall of all five selectmen.

“I know that you can’t always have your way, but when the people approve an ordinance, the town can’t just ignore it,” she said. “That’s just not the way the process is supposed to work.”

After Aniel, Barrett and Richards left, Madigan said that the Budget Committee did not have a quorum and therefore could not provide their recommendations for the budget proposals.

Madigan added that the town is not required to have a budget committee, and that if a quorum is not reached for future budget meetings, the budget will be placed before voters with only the recommendations made by selectmen.

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