DIXFIELD — Town Manager Carlo Puiia told residents Monday evening that there will be one municipal budget item decided at the April 28 annual town meeting, while the rest of the municipal budget items will be voted on by secret ballot June 14.

Puiia said the board agreed that the Debt Service warrant article should be decided during the annual town meeting, rather than the referendum at the polls.

The annual town meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, April 28, in the Dirigo High School Community Room, while the referendum is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 14.

The Debt Service article asks residents if the town should raise and appropriate $129,443 for Debt Service for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

The decision stemmed from the aftermath of the 2015 referendum in which residents voted against approving the Debt Service budget.

“Debt Service is the commitments that the town has made, in terms of borrowing money,” Puiia explained Monday evening. “It’s money that the town has to pay back.”

He said that when that particular article is sent to the ballot box, “and people haven’t heard the discussion about it,” there’s a chance it could be defeated.

“The good thing about voting on that article at the annual town meeting is that the town officials can explain what debt service is, and why we need to vote to approve it,” Puiia said. “At the ballot box, some people say, ‘That number is too high,’ and vote it down. That’s like taking out a mortgage, and deciding you’re not going to make the payment anymore.”

Selectman Eugene Skibitsky said if residents were to vote against approving the Debt Service budget, the town would have to “hold special town meetings until it was passed.”

“Those debts need to be paid,” he said.

Chairman Hart Daley said that the town not paying their debts could “jeopardize their future borrowing opportunities,” while Selectman Mac Gill said that it could affect the town’s credit.

The town meeting warrant states that the proposed $129,443 Debt Service budget is split into three line items:

• $46,737 for a firetruck payment;

• $13,941 for a plow truck payment; and

• $68,765 for a road construction payment.

Resident Peter Holman asked Puiia what would happen if residents were to reject the Debt Service budget.

Puiia said that he believes “when people hear the good information, they’ll make the right choice.”

Daley added that with other articles that are defeated at the referendum ballot, the selectmen can review the budget and decrease the bottom line.

“With the Debt Service budget, we can’t decrease the numbers any lower,” Daley said. “We would be going back to a special town meeting with the same exact number that was shot down until it was passed.”

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