MINOT — Town Administrator Danielle Loring told selectmen and Budget Committee members Monday night that she will “strive for flat budget where possible,” with no more than a 2% increase in the municipal budget for fiscal year 2020-21.

The initial municipal budget proposal stands at $1.65 million, a decrease of less than 1% from the current budget of $1.66 million.

She pointed out that Androscoggin County’s assessment and the Regional School Unit 16 budget will not be known until next year.

In her presentation, Loring said she investigated saving money by moving services in-house rather than outsourcing, examined establishing a capital reserve fund for major equipment purchases, and researched potential salary increases and benefits so the town can remain competitive in employment opportunities.

For the administration budget, Loring said the line item titled miscellaneous expenses has been changed to interdepartment and IT services. It combines expenses that all departments share, such as postage, trash removal and advertising. The line also includes the town’s internet network, hardware and software needs.

Code enforcement and planning is another new expense line. Previously its costs were divided between miscellaneous and town office accounts.

Loring said a part-time position will be required if the town passes the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code.

There will also be an elections and town meeting expense line, which was originally called town report printing. It will involve costs associated with clerks, tabulator rentals and contractors related to elections and town meeting, as well as printing the town report.

Loring said the town has negotiated with its assessing agent, John E. O’Donnell & Associates Inc. of New Gloucester, and will save $4,000 if the town does some of the administrative functions.

A request to move $75,000 from the undesignated fund balance to the reserve account to pay for a property revaluation in 2021 will be on the warrant. The cost is expected to reach $150,000.

The Highway Department’s budget came in at $816,014, which is $890 more than the current budget. It includes buying a new pickup truck minus the trade-in of the current one.

Buying a backhoe will be separate warrant article on the March town meeting warrant, Loring said.

Highway Department Supervisor Scott Parker said a two-bucket backhoe is needed because the department is getting “further and further behind on some of our smaller ditching projects” including culvert replacement.

He said the backhoe is a versatile machine for use year-round on all sorts of projects.

The town has not had a backhoe for eight years.

The cost and how the town would finance it is still to be determined.

Fire and Rescue Chief Jim Allen presented a budget of $97,000, which is $135 less than the current budget.

Allen said the only vehicle that needs to be replaced is the forestry truck, and the department is exploring federal, state and private funds to pay for one.

Final budget proposals will be submitted Nov. 14. Selectmen will review them and make their recommendations Nov. 18. The Budget Committee will review them and make its recommendations Dec. 5.

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