LIVERMORE FALLS — Selectmen approved a proposed $2.73 million spending package on Thursday for 2021-22.

The proposal will go to voters at the annual Town Meeting in June.

It represents an increase of $82,397, or just over 3%, from the current budget. It does not include the town’s share of the Regional School Unit 73 or Androscoggin County assessments.

The board reduced the police chief’s capital improvement request to put away $21,000 toward a new cruiser to $14,000. Selectman Ernie Souther said instead of buying a cruiser in two years, it will take three years and save $7,000 in each of those budgets. Selectman Heather Bronish agreed.

The police chief planned to raise $21,000 in the year beginning July 1, and another $21,000 in the second year to buy a cruiser in 2022-23.

The two cruisers were supposed to last four years, Tom Barker, chairman of the Budget Committee, said.

That means a new cruiser will not be purchased until the 2023-24 budget. Voters approved to lease-purchase two cruisers in March 2019. It was an effort to save money by buying the 2019 cruisers before Ford changed the body style and engine power increased the price in 2020. One of the cruisers was to have limited use.

After a deer collision, a cruiser needed to be repaired. There were also issues with the transmission with the oldest cruiser, a 2017, Police Chief Ernest Steward Jr. said Monday.  The limited use cruiser’s updated mileage has about 25,300 miles on it, he said.

The second 2019 cruiser has about 45,000 miles on it and the 2017 has 91,200 miles, Steward said Monday. The cruisers had lower mileage on them when the budget was submitted, he said. The less mileage on a cruiser, the better the trade-in value, he said.

Voters authorized Steward in July to use $15,000 from his 2020 budget to pay off the police cruiser loan one year early. The department saved money not having to travel to the Androscoggin County Jail or courts as often because of COVID-19 restrictions.  The majority of the savings was in fuel and vehicle repairs, Steward said last year.

Selectmen also removed $3740 from the Fire Rescue Department budget, Fire Chief Edward Hastings IV told selectmen Thursday. It was to be used for a second per diem position to man the station, respond to calls and do tasks such as truck inspections and cleaning.

There is a shortage of firefighters and many have full-time jobs out of town, Hastings said. He would like to eventually see a per diem position for each weekday. There are usually enough firefighters around on the weekend to respond to an emergency, he said.

“There is a difference between wants and needs,” Souther said.

Selectmen voted to cap the agency request budget to $5,000. The requests had totaled $9,845.

Interim Town Manager Amanda Allen said the board proposed: $1,000 for Tri-Town Ministerial Association Food Cupboard; $750 for Rural Community Action Ministry; $1,000 for Area Youth Sports insurance; $1,000 for AYS heating; $1,000 for SeniorsPlus; and $250, Kennebec Behavorial Health. Kennebec Behavorial Health has an office in Farmington.

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