Budget committee members Natalie Andrews (far left) and Dian Rainey listen to someone from the audience. Both selectmen and budget committee members heard from numerous people/businesses about their budget for the upcoming year. Bethel Citizen photo by Samuel Wheeler.

WEST PARIS — Thursday’s West Paris Board of Selectmen meeting started with selectmen signing a letter to the Paris Board of Selectmen regarding the SAD 17 budget.

At a Dec. 12 meeting, Selectman Dale Piirainen read the letter from the Paris board, which focused on their concerns about SAD 17 school budget.

The Paris Board of Selectmen letter said “School board members are basically led through a process by the superintendent and told that this is the amount we need and to question that amount infers that they don’t feel the children are worth the money or that education isn’t important. It is far from the truth and there is room to cut the budget without the children being negatively affected.

The letter also said if any other towns would be interested in exploring ways to save tax dollars, the select board would want to meet with them.

“Probably the most timely and effective way we have available to indirectly influence the school budget is to fully participate in the process in the time(s) and place(s) available to us,” the West Paris Board of Selectmen letter stated. “The majority of select board members from all eight towns in the district need to show up at the town budget hearings at the superintendent’s meeting dedicated to briefing town officials, present a united front, and propose productive, positive ideas.”

The West Paris letter added that the board is satisfied with the two current residents representing the town on the school board, saying that the members value “sound education, ask hard questions, are fiscally conservative and usually find themselves in the minority when voting on contentious issues.”

The letter ended by saying the town selectmen would be interested in discussing the matter further.

Last June, SAD 17 voters approved a $40.9 million budget, 744-415.

The eight towns in SAD 17 are Paris, West Paris, Hebron, Waterford, Otisfield, Oxford, Norway and Harrison.

Other news

Selectmen unanimously approved appointing Fire Chief Troy Billings as Fire Chief again for 2020. Billings has been working for the department since 2013.

A hearing on the upcoming budget for the year was held shortly after the end of the select board meeting. An official budget committee meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 16, at 6 p.m. at the West Paris Town Office.


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