PITTSTON — The Pittston Board of Selectman approved the warrant articles Wednesday night that residents will vote on at the Town Meeting in March.
The board said the overall budget is slightly higher than last year, but the effect of the funding requests on the tax rate isn’t yet known.
If all articles pass, although the board isn’t recommending that, the budget will total almost $940,000, about half of which would be raised from taxes.
The current tax rate is $13.20 per $1,000 of assessed value.
There aren’t any major changes proposed in the articles, but there are some new requests, including $6,000 for a maintenance fund for the town office and $5,000 to fund a waste-collection day to replace a service lost when the town switched to a new waste disposal plant, board members said Thursday morning at the town office.
The Town Meeting is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. March 15 at Pittston Consolidated School.
Another change is the way the town funds its cemeteries. There are 24 cemeteries in Pittston, many with limited number of grave sites, but none are owned by the town. The chairwoman of the board, Jane Hubert, said Maine Municipal Association advised the board that the town shouldn’t spend money maintaining private cemeteries. The state, however, requires municipalities to maintain the grave sites of veterans, Hubert said.
The board is recommending to raise and appropriate $25 per veteran grave site for every cemetery. This would provide funding of less than $100 for about a half dozen cemeteries that didn’t receive any funding from the town before. The total funding recommended by the select board and Budget Committee, $8,350, is about $1,000 more than what was approved by the town last year.
“We need to make sure the veterans are taken care of in the other cemeteries. We have to find a fair way to do it,” Hubert said.
The board is also recommending against a $2,000 funding request from the Riverside Cemetery to restore an area outside of the rest of the cemetery where apparently unmarked graves have been found, Selectwoman Jean Ambrose said. Hubert and Ambrose said the board voted against the request because the town would be providing money to a private entity.
The board approved an article that will ask the residents to approve the town issuing tax bills twice a year starting in 2015 because the board is trying to move the town away from relying on tax-anticipation loans to fund operations over the summer, Hubert said. This past year, the town spent more than $3,000 on interest and $1,500 in attorney fees for a $500,000 loan, she said.