Sabattus residents cast their votes Wednesday night during the annual Town Meeting at Oak Hill Middle School. Mark LaFlamme/Sun Journal

SABATTUS — Town residents approved police, fire and public works funds Wednesday night at an annual Town Meeting that featured vigorous discussion, but little by the way of contention.

Some of the votes moved along surprisingly quickly as residents approved $660,936 for the police department, $359,730 for fire coverage and another $852,092 for public works.

The sum of the public works budget represented one of the largest jumps on the 2024 agenda. In fiscal year 2023, the public works budget was $621,575, meaning the town was asking for an additional $256,000 for 2024. The matter was discussed for several minutes and reasons for the increase were many.

The cost of paving materials, which have doubled over recent years, got the bulk of the blame for the budget hike. But even as residents bemoaned the extra cost, a couple of them took pains to praise public works for keeping town roads in tip top shape.

“It’s a very, very good crew down there,” Town Manager Timothy Kane agreed.

Public works had also hired additional staff over the past year, including a mechanic and driver, which contributed to the budget hike. Additionally, the department contended with supply chain issues and a greater need for technology.


The Board of Selectmen had initially asked for $877,596 for public works, but voters ultimately passed the lower figure of $852,096 that had been put forth by the Budget Committee. They also voted against paying $110,000 for an excavator for the department, as the budget committee had suggested.

Tensions between the fire department and the town manager did not reveal themselves during discussions over the department budget — voters were reasonably quick to approve the sum of $359,730 for the fire department, a figure that is up slightly from last year’s $315, 860. They approved another $17,250 for the Emergency First Responder Program and $1,950 for Emergency Management.

Meanwhile, voters approved $660,936 for the Police Department, a small jump from last year’s $630,519 police budget, with little discussion. While the town asked voters to pay for three police cruisers, residents ultimately agreed to pay for only one, agreeing to spend $40,000 instead of the $120,000 requested by the town. Likewise, voters approved $15,934 in funds to outfit the cruiser instead of the $48,000 it would have cost to outfit three.

In all, 40 articles were discussed and voted on. One early item, a vote to appropriate $2,399 724 in non-property tax revenues to reduce the property tax commitment was debated at length, thought it was ultimately approved.

The meeting was heavily attended, with nearly 200 people jamming into Oak Hill Middle School. One resident observed that it was the biggest turnout he could recall in recent years.