Police & Fire

Dover-Foxcroft officials starting budget preparations

DOVER-FOXCROFT — An initial draft of the 2023-24 Dover-Foxcroft municipal budget was presented to the select board during a meeting on Monday evening

Town Manager Jack Clukey said appropriations in the spending plan are up by $319,750 (4.89 percent). Revenues to offset the tax commitment are up by $134,392 (3.69 percent), and the year to year difference in amount needing to be raised is $185,358 (6.39 percent).

At last April’s annual town meeting, residents approved a proposed $5,447,525 town operations budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year. They approved a separate article that would allow the town to appropriate $2,954,020 in anticipated revenues and $669,000 in surplus funds, which would be used to reduce amounts to be raised from the property tax commitment.

Clukey said the impact to the mill rate would be a 2.84 percent increase, which would be 4.23 percent when combined with the county impact. “We won’t know where the mill rate falls until we get the municipal valuation,” he said.

The town manager said the budget will also include $400,000 for the annual road and paving work, and another $200,000 for bridge work.

“The budget advisory committee meets on it, then we have an April town meeting — the fourth Saturday of April,” Clukey said. The total budget approved on Saturday, April 22 is then moved to a referendum vote the second Tuesday of June. 

The budget advisory committee is scheduled to have its first meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 28. That evening the group will set its schedule, meeting weekly throughout March.

The select board reappointed Lucas Butler and Marc Poulin to the budget advisory committee with terms running through June 30, 2025. Amy Fagan Cannon was appointed with a term to expire on June 30, 2024, and Emery Cox was appointed to a term to expire June 30, 2025.

In other business, the select board formally approved an agreement to use the town of Monson’s tank truck from April 1 until a new truck is delivered to Dover-Foxcroft in the summer of 2024.

The board had previously approved the use of a Maine Forest Service tank truck, which is available until April 1 when wildfire season starts. The 3,000-gallon vehicle would otherwise be in storage for the winter.

Post-April 1 the Monson vehicle will be Dover-Foxcroft’s fleet. Dover-Foxcroft will respond with the truck for mutual aid in Monson if requested.

The Dover-Foxcroft Fire Department’s nearly 30-year-old tank truck has been out of service and will be replaced with a 2024 model.

The select board approved a purchase agreement with Midwest Fire of Luverne, Minnesota, last month. A $10,000 deposit is due with the contract signing, and an estimated $142,300 would be paid upon completion of the chassis in April 2024. The remaining balance would be due upon completion of the truck for a total project cost of $522,735. The estimated delivery date is July 2024.

The board approved the purchase of a Trackless sidewalk plow for approximately $176,000 from HP Fairfield of Skowhegan. 

Clukey said the town had previously purchased used models. “We are concerned about the reliability of all of them. We want one where we don’t have to worry about that,” he said.

“This is an important piece of equipment for our public works department,” board member Tom Lizotte said. He said Dover-Foxcroft has a number of sidewalks and the new plow will be vital for keeping these walkways clear.

After discussion at the previous meeting and at the administrative committee level, the select board is looking to revise its remote meeting policy. 

Zoom would continue to be used but in a webinar format. Virtual meeting attendees would be able to access the audio and video from the meeting without the ability to share their audio or video stream. Board members attending remotely would have their audio and video enabled as they do now along with certain others the select board may require such as legal counsel, consultants and others.

“We were trying to consider the concerns, points of distraction as well as access,” Select Vice Chair Cindy Freeman Cyr said. She said with the webinar format, “Anyone can be at the meeting like public access cable.”

“This is quite similar to what is offered in Augusta,” Selectperson Jane Conroy said. “I think we’re being reasonable and accommodating of those who want to know what’s happening.” She added that anyone can also submit written comment for agenda items or other town matters.

Freeman Cyr mentioned that Clukey has been monitoring Zoom attendees, and perhaps another town employee could handle this task to free Clukey up for the meeting.

The board passed a motion to move forward with the webinar format, clarifying all the town’s responsibilities with legal counsel.

When asked if the town could record and archive the meetings for public viewing, Select Chairperson Elwood Edgerly said, “We can bring that to committee and discuss that.”

During public comment, the board was asked if the upcoming shows by the Bangor-based Delicious Drag Divas at the Center Theatre would violate the town’s public indecency ordinance.

“At our next meeting we will have our special amusement permit hearing,” Clukey said.

The Center Theatre will apply for a special amusement permit for alcohol sales, with a public hearing being planned as part of the select board meeting on Monday, Feb. 27.

Clukey said the Center Theatre is aware of the public indecency ordinance. “(Executive Director Patrick Myers) is also making the performers aware the ordinance exists. That’s really all you can do ahead of time.”

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