SABATTUS — Residents approved a municipal budget of $2.91 million for 2019-20 at Thursday night’s annual town meeting. About 30 residents attended.

The budget will drop the tax rate about 15 cents, Town Manager Anthony Ward said, but does not include assessments from Regional School Unit 4 or Androscoggin County.

Residents voted to give the Fire Department $152,475, the amount recommended by the Budget Committee, to pay for a part-time staff five days a week instead of three. Selectmen recommended $142,475.

“Volunteerism is down, and a lot of our members work full-time jobs,” Fire Chief Marc Veilleux said. “It’s hard to get a response to calls during the day. This way we have at least one person on any day during the week that can respond.”

Selectman Guy Desjardins said it wasn’t a hard and fast argument, but the board felt it was up to voters to decide if they want to pay for the two extra days.

Voters also approved appropriating $47,000 from the undesignated fund balance to pay for mold removal in the Fire Department buildings.

Veilleux said mold was found in both buildings in August 2018, and more work remains to get rid of it completely.

A $4,000 increase for the Transfer Station was also approved so it can open 30 minutes earlier and close 30 minutes later on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays. Transfer Station manager Jerry Sabins said the new hours are 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Voters also approved raising $20,000 and appropriating $33,000 from the undesignated fund balance to purchase three new roll-off containers for the Transfer Station.

Lastly, residents approved $128,650 for professional services, a $63,000 increase from the current budget. Ward said $57,000 of that is to cover the cost of a market analysis.

“The equity of the town is not where it should be,” he said.


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