OAKLAND — On Tuesday night, Oakland’s voters approved a $4.2 million municipal budget recommended by town leaders during the annual Town Meeting at Messalonskee High School.

The budget, which is about $100,000, or 3.37 percent, less than last year’s, faced little opposition, although a handful of residents opposed spending money on community service organizations.

Oakland’s property tax rate of $13.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value is unlikely to decrease, because the town’s reductions are likely to be offset by changes in the Regional School Unit 18 budget.

The approval means that $2,325,233 will be raised through taxation from local property owners to support the town budget. That amount is 5.17 percent less than that of last year, when $2,448,245 was raised from local property taxes.

During the one-hour meeting, nearly each of the 22 articles in the warrant passed unanimously, by voice vote.

Several times, residents asked for clarification of a budget item, or expressed the opinion that certain expenses could be managed better.

In each case, Town Manager Peter Nielsen explained the details of the item in question, or of the reasoning that had led the five-member Town Council to arrive at a particular decision.

The only article on the warrant that drew more than one opposing vote involved funding requests from community service organizations, such as the American Red Cross, the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter, Spectrum Generations and the Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Center.

Resident Lewis Lester asked why the allocation to the homeless shelter, which had been increased from $645 to $1,400, was “more than doubling.”

Nielsen said that Oakland residents use the Waterville-based shelter, and that the shelter saved taxpayers money because of “the amount of resources that the town of Oakland might have to put into our general assistance work if the homeless shelter was not available for us to refer people to, when that is appropriate.”

Lester called the sexual assault crisis center “a new group with their hand out” and asked why it was funded.

Nielsen said Oakland police sometimes use the crisis center to fill a need that cannot be met otherwise.

Lester said that “everybody can put out a hand and make a very good case for this, that or the other thing,” and suggested that many agencies exist to make money off of those in need.

Town Council Chairman Mike Perkins noted that the town had received funding requests that totaled more than $47,000, and that he felt $22,650, the total amount allocated to the organizations, was reasonable.

The article passed with a large majority, although a handful of residents voted against it.

At another point, resident Bill Rose suggested increasing user fees at the transfer station, which would reduce the cost burden on general taxpayers.

Nielsen responded that the current fee schedule was crafted in an effort to strike a balance between fees being too high or too low. He suggested that high fees could drive people to dump their waste illegally but also said the schedule could be tweaked in either direction.

The town budget could be affected by the outcome of the Legislature’s budget process. That will include the amount towns will receive through state revenue sharing, which accounted for about $325,000 of Oakland’s budget last year.

If a proposal from Gov. Paul LePage to eliminate revenue sharing is passed, Nielsen said the town probably would try to absorb the loss rather than seek additional local funding this year.

Before the meeting, Nielsen had cited a trend of dwindling attendance at annual Town Meetings as a cause of concern.

Over the past 10 years, he said, attendance has declined from about 250 attendees a year to 110 in 2012. The town’s population is about 6,000.

The attendance at Tuesday’s meeting was about 100, according to Nielsen.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287

[email protected]

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.