JAY — Five candidates are running for two selectperson positions during the annual town meeting referendum from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, at the Community Building.

Joyce Badeau, Keith Cornelio and Daniel Finley are seeking election to one, two-year second selectperson seat.

Barbara Cook and Judy Diaz are vying for one, three-year term for the third selectperson seat.

The Sun Journal asked candidates if anything could be done to alleviate the burden of the $400 million loss of value of Verso Androscoggin LLC’s paper mill and related assets on other taxpayers.

“The only way we are going to lessen the burden on the taxpayers of Jay is by smarter spending by making every penny we spend count, changing the way we think and do things by redefining what is necessary and what is nice, tone down our ‘wants’ and take better care of what we have,” Badeau said.

Cornelio said he felt that the questions asked by the Sun Journal should be responded to by the next board and not the “newcomers” without the benefit of feedback by the board in its entirety.

“In my opinion, it would not be fair to the existing members nor myself to assume my ideas had not already been, or presently are under discussion or advisement,” Cornelio said.

Finley believes it’s time that “Verso pay their fair share,” he said.

“We, the taxpayers and homeowners, should not be responsible for the burden of taxes while Verso gets a break,” he said. “We have already reduced the valuation a sizable amount. This is the only way that we can continue to manage our town in the manner we are accustomed to. We desperately need this revenue to make that happen. It should be a decision made by us — the resident taxpayers — to deem what their taxes should be. It is an in-state matter and should be decided by Maine residents and not by out-of-staters.”

Verso has asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to decide the valuation of the mill and property for tax years 2013, 2014 and 2015 rather than go through the state appeal process. The company is reorganizing under Chapter 11.

“We need to look at the needs and wants of the community and allocate our resources in a fiscally responsible manner for all the taxpayers,” Diaz said.

Cook said it’s easy to say that you are going to cut this, cut that, consolidate this and consolidate that in an attempt to alleviate the burden on other taxpayers.

“If I’m elected, I will study the budget, evaluate the town’s departments and what the status of the population in the town is and the business that we have,” she said. “Then start with the tax valuation of the town from the state to county, then go from there. Then by trying to get new business coming into the town.”

Candidates were asked where else they felt reductions could be made given the town has reduced or eliminated personnel positions over the past couple years. The proposed $5.2 million 2016-17 municipal budget is $368,434 less than the existing budget. 

“Any significant cuts to our taxes will be from services provided by the town,” Diaz said.

That being said, the largest expenses are salaries and benefits, and they are driven by contracts, she said.

“The school budget is our largest expense, and there is no oversight for transparency or accountability,” Diaz said. “I would suggest establishing a finance committee to empower the towns to have a greater voice during the budget process.”

Cook believes the town departments have done a good job for the town.

“Again, the town budget isn’t all that bad, but we probably could find some other cuts,” Cook said. “This again is going over their budgets and their expenditures to see what can be done. Every dollar saved counts on taxes saved.” 

Finley believes “it would serve our interests if we combined our police and fire departments with Livermore Falls.”

“Also, we are not getting the ‘bang for our buck’ from the (Franklin) County tax,”  Finley said. “It could be better utilized by having the Sheriff’s Department do more patrolling in our area.”

Badeau said she knows the Board of Selectpersons and department heads already made some tough and unpopular decisions for the coming budget. 

“We all know that some tougher and more unpopular decisions are still sitting there waiting for the next board to deal with,” she said. “I can not sit here tonight and say where to start. What I can say is I would like to be a part of the team that sifts through and researches all the incoming information, so that the healthiest and best decisions are made for the town of Jay.”

“We do need to reduce cost, but we must be careful that those cuts don’t cost us more money a year or two down the road,” Badeau said.

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Address: Parker Pond Road

Age: 54

Occupation: Store clerk/cashier

Address: Davis Road, Jay

Age: N/A

Occupation: Retired

Address: Macomber Hill Road, Jay

Age: N/A

Occupation: Retired


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