MECHANIC FALLS — The town Budget Committee and Town Council cut $1,900 from the proposed 2020-21 municipal budget Monday.

That cut was in the first account the two panels considered — the Boards and Council budget. No cuts were made in any of the other 19 accounts. Virtually every vote was unanimous.

It is uncertain how the $1,900 cut will affect the tax rate. Property owners were looking at a tax rate increase of about 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value under the proposed budget. The rate of $20.95 would rise to $21.20 under the original proposal.

The two boards agreed to cut $900 from the training and travel line to reduce that budgeted amount to $300 — the same amount in the current budget.

They also eliminated a $1,000 donation for Community Day.

Those cuts were proposed by the Budget Committee. Thomas Walton was the only committee member to oppose the cuts on a 5-1 vote. The council vote on the $1,900 cut was 3-2 with Kieth Bennett and John Emery voting no and Tarsha Downing, Rose Aikman and Nicholas Konstantoulakas supporting the measure.

The only other account, which did not pass with a unanimous recommendation, was the Code Enforcement/Planning budget. Lou Goulet of the Budget Committee wanted the hours per week left at 37 instead of the proposed 40 hours in the new budget. The three hours were added for the additional role of safety compliance officer that will be covered by the code enforcement officer.

The nearly three-hour Zoom meeting ran into some technical difficulties when the cellphones or computers from two members of the Budget Committee lost power due to the length of the meeting and not having a charger with them. The committee continued with four members — the minimum required for a quorum — voting on the remaining 12 accounts. All passed by 4-0 votes, including Police, Fire/Rescue, Public Works and Transfer Station.

The proposed $4.9 million budget includes more than $1.7 million for Regional School Unit 16. The amount needed to be raised for taxes will be offset by nearly $1.4 million in expected revenue.

The public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 19. Officials are hoping to hold the meeting in a gymnasium or some other large space to conform with social distancing guidelines.


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