BUCKFIELD — The select board struggled Tuesday to cut the budget for administration to meet last year’s total after voters rejected for a second time a proposed budget for the department.

Following its second defeat during a special town referendum last week, the amount to fund administrative services had to be slashed by $7,955 to equal the amount budgeted for the 2019-2020 fiscal budget.

Nearly 60% of the voters last week rejected the administration budget by a margin of 60-92.

The new budget includes a needed full time office assistant, which is currently a part time position.

Hoping to not cut wages or eliminate a position, the select board looked at several other budget lines. Selectman Martha Catevenis made several suggestions, but she conceded that her recommendations left the board $3,000 shy of its target. To get to the required amount, she said the board was only left with “crappy decisions.”

That left cutting benefits, reducing wages or closing the town office for certain days, which would provide residents with fewer services.

“What is our goal? What do you want to see from the town of Buckfield? How do you want us to move forward as a town,” Catevenis asked.

“You’re still going to have those demands for services,” interim Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz said.

Berkowitz proposed a possible solution, by insinuating that money could be saved with the hiring a new town manager and not also having to pay for his salary as interim, but said that discussion had to start with an executive session because it was a personnel issue.

The board was still in executive at 9:45 p.m.

The board also had to cut the budget for the Zadoc Long Free Library after Buckfield voters also rejected that department’s budget, 72-82. Cutting that budget by $4,645 proved a little bit easier, but no less painful. The largest portion of the cut was $2,515 for books from an original budgeted amount of $4,000.

To take some sting out of the cut, Berkowitz said he would contribute $500 out of his own pocket  to help purchase books.

Catevenis and chairman Tina Brooks, with input from librarian Katie Clukey, proposed cuts in several budget lines to help lower the library budget by $4,645.

In other business, the board postponed a decision on a culvert for Bear Pond Road to get more information from Main-Land Consultants on the contract. The contract is supposed to include that the company prepared the grant application.

The grant is expected to cover “both the engineer’s work as well as the labor and materials for the culvert’s replacement,” Berkowitz said.

The board also postponed action on approving a pole location permit for Central Maine Power on Tucker Road.

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