BUCKFIELD — The three-member Select Board struggled Thursday night on how to accept the resignation of Chairwoman Tina Brooks and questions about the 2021-22 budget.

Brooks announced Monday that she was resigning for a personal family matter. Her term ends June 30.

Working with Maine Municipal Association legal officials, Town Manager John Andrews drew up a timeline where Brooks could resign during the town elections June 8 with her replacement being elected that day on a separate ballot from other selectmen races that day.

Because Brooks is resigning, the procedure to fill out nominating papers can be shortened. That would save the town money by not requiring a second election.

Selectman Cheryl Coffman twice attempted to make a motion to accept Brooks’ resignation and start the process to replace her, but Selectman Martha Catevenis refused to second the motions.

Brooks did not feel she should second the motions since it involved her, which meant they could not be voted on.

Catevenis said Brooks could not resign if the board did not accept the resignation. Holding up the resignation, Catevenis said the town needed to talk to an attorney.

Andrews and former interim Town Manager Mitchell Berkowitz, who was providing guidance through the budget process, said Brooks could second the motions, contingent on legal advice from counsel, which she did.

Catevenis voted against both accepting the resignation and moving ahead with replacing her.

In addition to electing Brooks’ replacement, voters on June 8 will also elect three other selectmen, including one to replace the retiring Catevenis. Voters last year approved adding two more members to the board, bringing the total to five.

The budget will also be decided June 8. Following the addition of $10,000 to the emergency contingency account, the budget will increase by $34,842.10, or 0.9%. Town Manager John Andrews said when combined with an expected increase in revenues and the available fund balance, taxpayers should see a decrease in their tax burden.

The municipal budget, however, does not include assessments from Regional School Unit 10 and Oxford County government.

When the board moved on to the budget, the squabbling continued. As Catevenis was questioning how certain line items were determined, a frustrated Andrews  complained she was “nickel and diming it to death.” He told the board to accept the budget or vote against it, he had a town to run.

“This is now on your plate,” Andrews said. “Good luck, ladies.”

The board approved each budget line, with Catevenis opposing seven of the town department’s spending requests.

The biggest budget jumps are $16,000 in debt service to cover the lease to purchase agreements for three snowplows and an excavator, more than $10,000 in administration and $10,000 for the emergency contingency line as recommended by Catevenis.

Catevenis attempted to cut the entire $2,500 for social services agencies, but Brooks and Coffman opposed that move.

The budget discussion was a continuation of Monday’s meeting, which lasted four hours. In the interim, Andrews recalculated the budget after getting feedback from the board and department heads.

“As long as this is a flat budget, we will support this budget,” Glen Holmes, chairman of the Budget Committee, said during Monday’s session.

The Select Board recessed the meeting and voted to continue discussion Monday to approve the warrant articles. If they are approved, Buckfield will schedule public hearings Tuesday, May 4, and Saturday, May 8.


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