NEW PORTLAND — Residents voted to approve a budget for road repairs and increases in Town Office salaries and transfer station fees Saturday at the annual Town Meeting.

They declined to raise money for the recreation fund and to repair headstones at the town’s three cemeteries.

About 50 people gathered in the fire station for the meeting, which lasted about two hours. They made minor changes to the $488,364 budget that selectmen had recommended, but Town Manager Stacie Rundlett said she did not have a final figure at the meeting’s conclusion.

“We tried to save taxpayers some money. We couldn’t find any other places to cut the budget without hurting people, making the job of selectmen twice as hard or ending programs,” said Judi Wills, the Budget Committee chairwoman.

Voters approved the $128,336 that selectmen had recommended for town officials’ salaries, Town Office operations, and Social Security and insurance for  administrators. The total is $9,123 more than last year.

Residents also voted to appropriate $$216,000 for winter road maintenance, with $131,000 coming from property taxes and the rest from excise.

An increase in transfer station fees was approved, for a total amount of $48,920.

Some residents thought money could be saved by making cuts to smaller programs. Stephanie Dunn said she has lived in town for 12 years and has seen taxes continually rise.

“I’m not against these things, but I don’t feel they belong in taxes. People can give privately to the organizations they choose to support and feel they use,” she said.

Selectmen recommended $2,500 for repairs to town cemeteries and $1,500 to the recreation fund, but residents rejected both.

Wills said she knows that many people want to keep taxes down, but added that it can be hard to do without losing important services.

There was also discussion about giving a proposed $4,000 to the New Portland Community Library. The proposal passed, though, after numerous people said they feel the library is one of the town’s best resources.

“Since the school closed, I really think the focal point of the community has shifted, and I think it would be a very, very bad choice not to give to the library. The amount of people using it has gone up, and it is really the gem of this community,” said Dallas Landry, a former library trustee and the author of the town’s monthly newspaper, The New Portlander.

Also, Wayne Rundlett was elected to the Board of Selectman. Danika Bates and Valerie Pinkham were elected to the board of School Administrative District 74.

Residents approved $112,500 for summer road maintenance, $4,500 for streetlights, $39,608 for Fire Department operating expenses, $3,500 to produce The New Portlander and $1,500 for the People Who Care Food Cupboard.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368
[email protected]

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