AVON — Voters at town meeting Saturday approved a 2015 budget that increased spending by 3 percent over last year.

Last year’s budget, according to 1st Selectman Greta Espeaignnette, was $211,000, and voters this year approved $218,000. Property taxpayers will be assessed $15.10 per $1,000 of valuation. The 34 voters elected municipal officials from the floor, including Paul Gardiner as RSU 58 director and Barry Thorndike as 2nd selectman. Thorndike fills the seat vacated by Selectman Jerry Gilchrist. Treasurer Maureen Haley, Road Commissioner Jerry Haines and Town Clerk and Tax Collector Mary Dunham will serve another term. Bruce Dunham will continue as constable, a post he has filled for 53 years.

This year’s annual budget appropriations were close to selectmen’s recommendations. All budget requests were dispatched quickly, with little discussion or controversy.

The town pays its expenses throughout the year from money raised and appropriated at the town meeting, including anything left over from the previous year.

Voters were urged to encourage their friends and neighbors to help retain the community’s vitality. The town has maintained a field for the community to enjoy outdoor activities, including softball and baseball. This year will be the first that the Little League team won’t be using the field.

“We need more participation,” Selectman John Calloway said. “We don’t have a Little League team because we don’t have a coach.”

He urged the 34 voters at the meeting to find other citizens to participate in the annual meeting and in other community volunteer efforts.

“We have a wonderful little town, and we will lose things if we don’t participate,” he said.

Town treasurer Maureen Haley explained to voters that the town has been receiving less for years from the state’s revenue-sharing program. Those funds come from state sales tax and other similar revenue and help the town defray many of the town’s costs. 

Haley noted that Avon received $14,470 last year, compared to $21,235 in 2013 and $28,680 in 2012. State Rep. Thomas Skolfield, R-Weld, said Gov. Paul LePage’s plan to phase out revenue-sharing but eliminate income tax would return $52,000 to individuals. 

Many Avon residents have very low or fixed incomes, noted former Selectman Jerry Gilchrist, so an income tax cut will not benefit them or help to make up for the  town’s loss of revenue-sharing. In 2014, Avon taxpayers contributed $589,153 to the $793,557 in total revenues. Nearly 58 percent of the town’s tax dollars support Regional School Unit 58’s annual budget.

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