SABATTUS — Residents will head to town meeting next week to weigh in on employee raises, whether to pave the transfer station and how much, if any, to set aside for a new fire truck.

There’s a $68,000 difference between what selectmen and the Budget Committee recommend for the town.

The good news might be that either way, with an expected boost in revenue next year, Town Manager Tony Ward said he doesn’t anticipate the mil rate going up.

The annual town meeting is scheduled for next Thursday, May 18, at 6 p.m. at the town office.

The Budget Committee’s proposed budget for municipal operations, excise tax transfers and capital projects is $3,181,274, a 4.38 percent increase over 2017

Selectmen’s proposed budget for the same is $3,116,273, a 2.25 percent increase.

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Both groups support the same level of funding for the police and fire departments, public works and the transfer station, as well as using $125,000 from savings to offset the mil rate this year.

Areas where they disagree:

* The Budget Committee supports $15,000 in staff raises this year; selectmen support $10,000.

* The Budget Committee supports giving $4,376 to three non-profits (Rural Community Action Ministry, Tri-County Mental Health Services and Seniors Plus); selectmen support not giving anything.

“It’s a different philosophy,” Ward said. Selectmen feel taxpayer funds should not go to nonprofits. “The Budget Committee feels strongly they should support those three. The good part is, it gives the town the decision.”

* The Budget Committee supports both banking $25,000 toward a future fire truck and spending $35,000 on new Jaws of Life equipment; selectmen don’t support either.

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For the latter two, Ward said selectmen would rather not set aside $25,000 since they anticipate having to secure a bond in the future to buy the next truck.

For the Jaws of Life, he said the town currently has two sets, one of them older, that are still in working condition. Several local towns that Sabattus has mutual aid agreements with also own them.

The budget also includes $61,500 as the first year’s payment on a five-year bond to tear down the former Webster Rubber Mill.

“It’s collapsing in on itself and we own it,” Ward said. “It’s a safety hazard and it’s a liability for the town.”

If passed, the complex would be demolished in 2017. The long-term plan would be to reuse the property, potentially in a sale or in some community use, Ward said. That’ll be up for selectmen to discuss down the road.

Under capital improvements, voters will be asked to pay for $26,500 toward paving a large portion of the transfer station. The project would cost roughly $75,000 in total and be paid for over three years but all the work would take place this year.

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“Part of it’s asphalt, part of it’s in real rough shape,” Ward said.

Voters will also be asked to approve the purchase of a $188,000 new loader and plow, with $125,000 of that coming from savings. It will replace a 1992 loader, and the plow attachment will enable it to plow around Main Street.

Last year, just 31 people showed up to town meeting.

“We would strongly encourage everyone to come out here and participate in the truest form of local rule, local government,” Ward said. “Residents are the ones who determine what services they’re going to have.”

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Whether to pave the sections of the Sabattus transfer station marked in blue and green in the photo above are on the warrant at next week’s town meeting. The project would cost about $75,000, spread over three years.

A recent shot of the deteriorating former Webster Rubber Mill. Sabattus residents will vote next week on tearing it down and removing debris. The project would cost $61,500 a year for five years.


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