Dover-Foxcroft selectmen look at first draft of 2018-19 budget

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — Selectmen reviewed the the first draft of the 2018-19 municipal budget during a Feb. 12 meeting, with the amount to be raised up by $126,040 or 4.66 percent from the current figure of just under $2,718,000, which is part of the total $5,074,820 approved by residents at the town meeting referendum last June.

“The past month all the committees have been getting together to talk about what’s going on with each department,” Town Manager Jack Clukey said. He said a main aspect of the budget is an increase in personnel costs stemming from the minimum wage increase.

When asked, Clukey said a very large percentage of the $126,040 increase in the amount to be raised is made up of the minimum wage increase. He said the impact was not as great for the current budget but the second step of the rise in the minimum wage has led to the 4.66 percent increase.

Clukey said the proposed 2018-19 budget includes additional funding for capital equipment, maintenance for the fire department and officer training for the police department. He said on the revenue side excise tax collections are up significantly, solid waste revenue is down due to a decrease in disposal rebates with some of this offset by a lower tipping fee.

The spending plan has overall appropriations down by $54,717 (1.08 percent). Revenues and the use of fund balance is down by $180,755 due to not having a $300,000 plow truck in the spending plan in 2018-19.

“If you look at the early projection of the mill rate based on last year’s town valuation the effect on the mill rate would be an increase of 1.95 percent or .4 mills,” Clukey said, which would put the figure at $21.30 for every $1,000 in assessed property.

“Our budget advisory committee starts meeting on the 28th,” Select Vice Chair Cindy Freeman Cyr said, with the group to set its regular weekly schedule after the initial session on Feb. 28.

The selectmen appointed Stephen Robinson to the budget advisory committee, with a term to expire on June 30 as Robinson will fill the seat vacated by Deborah Davis. The positions for Erin Callaway, Kim Cavanaugh and Sean Letarte were each renewed for another term.

The budget advisory committee will work on the 2018-19 finances to bring these forward to the annual town meeting in late April. The items approved then will be moved to a referendum vote on the second Tuesday of June.

In other business, the selectmen were presented with an interim report for the street light project by RealTerm Energy.

“They took the information we gave them a few meetings ago in terms of street light fixtures and having switches on there that would enable for Wi-Fi,” Clukey said. “The next step, beyond the interim report, is what they call an investment grade audit.”

He said the investment grade audit would be comprised of an inventory of lights in place, what streets currently have too much or too little lighting and a plan for each street in town. “That would either increase or decrease the number of lights we have in town,” Clukey said.

The interim report estimates the street light upgrade to cost $318,226. “This investment has a 5.3-year payment, basically what we pay for upgrades we are going to see in 5.3 years,” Clukey said. He said the 5.3-year payback will be seen in energy efficiency over 10 years, representing a net savings of $273,831 over the decade after the upgrade is paid for.

“We are not going to ask to raise more money for this project,” the town manager said. “We have a street light budget, it’s not going to come across as a new budget item.”

“It’s kind of coming along as we expected it to,” Freeman Cyr said.

“It looks good, I think we are right in line with everybody else,” Finance Director Dave Johnson said, mentioning RealTerm is also working with Falmouth and other Maine communities on lighting projects. He said RealTerm will soon be sending out requests for proposals and the project could be done in the spring and early summer.

In his report Clukey said “the police department is running a patch design contest, inviting (Foxcroft Academy and SeDoMoCha School) students to submit a design for the department.”

Clukey said an invitation has been extended to the patch finalists to present their ideas at the next select meeting on Monday, Feb. 26.

“Chief (Ryan) Reardon’s very excited about it,” Clukey said.

The town manager and police chief have met with Maine Whoopie Pie Festival Organizer Patrick Myers to discuss plans for the 10th annual event scheduled for Saturday, June 23. Clukey said Myers is on the agenda to discuss the 2018 festival at the Feb. 26 meeting.

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