MECHANIC FALLS — Town Manager John Hawley on Monday briefed the Town Council on the ballots for the June 10 municipal budget referendum.

Hawley said he confirmed that voting on the 30 or so budget lines will be ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the amounts proposed.

“Each article gives a dollar figure, followed with a note giving the amounts recommended by the council and by the Budget Committee,” Hawley said. “Any that don’t pass, we’ll have to vote on again.”

Council Chairman Dan Blanchard commended Hawley for the work he and Finance Director Lisa Prevost did preparing a reasonable budget in what appears is going to be a difficult year.

The proposed budget includes substantial increases in the amounts being set aside for reserve accounts and capital improvement projects, Hawley said.

The total amount being requested, if approved, would increase property taxes to levels that the Budget Committee found unacceptable.

The council and the Budget Committee agreed that the town ought to be setting aside more money for reserves and capital improvements. The Budget Committee believes the town should double what it is being proposed for these accounts. The committee’s recommendations call for 8 percent across the board cuts in budgets for most municipal departments.

The proposed cuts, if passed, would significantly affect services the town provides, Hawley said.

“We would be looking at the equivalent of eliminating two full-time positions,” he said.

Hawley also called the council’s attention to the Water Department’s announcement that it will begin replacing the Park Street water main the week of June 12.

“Steve French is sending out notices to people in the neighborhood,” Hawley said, “but as that’s a short cut across town, there’s a lot of motorists who will be affected.”

Hawley also said the town’s contract with Time Warner Cable expires in one year and he has some questions on the effect a proposed new contract may have on the town budget.

The current contract contains a provision giving free Internet access in all public buildings, a provision that Hawley said might not continue.

He was also unsure what effect TWC’s pending merger with Comcast might have on future rates.

In an effort to find other ways to curb municipal spending, Hawley advised council members that he was looking into “pay as you throw” systems used by other towns as a way to reduce costs for dealing with solid waste disposal and would give a report at the board’s June meeting.

In other business, the council approved signing the RSU 16 budget warrant, accepted Tom Kuklinski’s resignation from the Budget Committee and Matthew Grise’s resignation from the Recreation Committee. It also issued a liquidation permit to Greg Sawyer, doing business as Handy True Value Hardware, which is going out of business.


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