BUCKFIELD —Roughly 40 people passed a $3,662,786 budget at Buckfield’s annual town meeting on Saturday.
The municipal budget for fiscal year 2020 is $1,827,244, which is an increase of $57,929 over the current budget. The town’s assessment to Oxford County is $133,803, which is an increase of $10,351. Buckfield’s share of RSU 10 is $1,651,739, which is an increase of $21,721.
The projected mil rate is $24.25 per $1,000 of assessed value, up from the current rate of $23.73, according to Town Clerk Cindy Dunn.
Town Manager Joe Roach explained there was a roughly $2,500 increase in insurance coverage that came in after the budget process, which was included in minor increases in the Administration, Fire, Rescue, Public Works and Municipal Center budgets.
An amendment made by Rescue Chief Floyd “Chip” Richardson to increase the Fire Department budget by $14,000 to include a dual fire-rescue position to increase daytime coverage–which was not recommended by the selectboard and Budget Committee in attempt to keep taxes stable–was defeated. Incoming Fire Chief and current Deputy Chief Adam Dupile said the position would provide daytime coverage four days a week instead of the current three.
“We all know the volunteer fire service is dying out,” he said, adding there are 11 members for the town’s volunteer Fire Department and only six are Buckfield residents. “Nobody wants to do something doing it for free. … We need help. The only way to get help now is to pay people.”
During budget discussions, it was noted there was turnover in the current dual position and the proposed one would have added benefits. Selectmen said they heard taxpayers call to not increase taxes, which is why the position was cut, but it doesn’t mean they won’t revisit it next budget cycle.
After a tie vote on the amendment, a secret ballot was cast. Nineteen people cast no votes and 15 people voted yes. Voters then passed the selectboard’s recommended $99,505 Fire Department budget.
Budget Committee member Judy Berg made a motion to appropriate $500 for the railroad bed, which was the committee’s recommendation and passed. The increase from the recommended $250 by the selectboard will go toward material to improve the condition of the recreational trail, Roach said.
Organization and local events, including Community Day which is always held on Labor Day, was allocated $2,100, which was an increase and amended on the floor. The selectboard recommended $1,500 and the Budget Committee recommended $600.
Berg made a motion to use $20,000 more from the fund balance to offset taxes, which passed. A total of $150,000 will be used now.

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