MECHANIC FALLS — A proposed warrant article that would require the Recreation Committee to follow the same financial protocols as other town charter-established committees stirred debate at Monday night’s Town Council meeting.

Town Manager Zakk Maher said the town auditor, Smith & Associates of Yarmouth, and the town’s legal counsel advised him that all committees established by town charter should follow the same financial protocol. That includes presenting an annual budget to the council and having all expenditures approved by either the town manager or the council, depending on the amount requested.

According to Maher, the auditor’s recommendation was triggered by the committee’s $52,436 surplus as of December.

Up until last year, the committee managed its finances.

Although $2,500 has been allocated annually by taxpayers, most of the expenses have been funded by fees, fundraisers and donations, according to Recreation Committee Chairman Justin Starbird.

“Our fees, our cost of participation (the $2,500 allocation) don’t cover our ability to run a program,” he said. Area communities are impressed by “how much we’re able to offer as much as we are with the resources we have … they are trying to emulate us.”

Starbird said it is difficult to budget costs in a given year with fundraising. He said they have four or five budgets in a year: spring, fall and winter sports, special tournaments and events.

Maher said there is “no problem with what you guys are doing. No one is concerned about the funds. What we’re concerned with we have to have a minimum threshold of accountability and oversight … it was never established the right way.”

Recreation Committee member Jay Bryant said he feels the committee is being “penalized because we’ve been financially responsible and we’ve gone out and raised money.” He said the committee has been able to “merge private funds and private enterprise with government that benefits the town of Mechanic Falls … and somehow we are not articulating to you guys how important this is.”

The warrant article calls for establishing a reserve account for recreation funds, and it will be administered by the town, per the town’s financial policy.

According to the policy, purchase orders for items or services must be issued as follows:

• Up to $250, the department head can approve;

• Up to $5,000, the town manager can approve; 

• Between $5,001 and $10,000, a written proposal or quotes from three qualified bidders must be presented to the Town Council for authorization; and

• More than $10,000, bids must be solicited, presented at a public meeting and opened and awarded by the Town Council.

The Town Council will review and vote on the article at its meeting Feb. 4, with the possibility it will go to voters in June.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.