READFIELD — Action on the town warrant articles bogged down almost immediately Thursday night when resident Eugene Carbona proposed a $9,000 reduction in the amount budgeted for the boards and committees.

About 100 townspeople attended Thursday’s meeting to approve the $5.5 million budget, held at Readfield Elementary School and approved everything as written after about three hours of discussion.

Carbona, who said he moved to Readfield two years ago, asked that the reduction come from the Trails Committee, saying it could be made up with donations and volunteers, and resident David Hefner agreed with him, asking, “How many trails does Readfield need?”

Ray Renner, who Tuesday was elected to the school committee, said, “I’ve cut back on my budget at home and I’m sure some other people have.”

Milt Wright, chairman of the Trails Committee, defended the committee’s almost $5,000 budget request, detailing the projects and the funding obtained through federal grants that is more than matched by local, in-kind services.

Budget Committee chairman John Parent said the committee spent 10 weeks reviewing the budget, and suggested that voters not take it “from the committee that has some of the most active volunteers in town.”

Howard Lake, who identified himself as a consumer of trails and a builder of trails, said he would oppose any cuts to the proposed expenditure.

In the end, the majority of the 99 residents opted to keep the boards and committees funded as originally proposed at $14,125.

The residents also voted to fund the cemetery maintenance budget at $31,000, rejecting a proposal supported by the majority of the selectboard to separate out the mowing budget at almost $15,700.

The budget committee recommended keeping the mowing budget within the maintenance budget.

Karen Peterson, cemetery sexton, said the keeping it there allows flexibility in case more or less mowing or maintenance are required.

“The town of Readfield has received nothing but compliments for the way the cemeteries look,” Peterson said, adding that the crew was mowing in the rain before Memorial Day to care for the cemeteries.

At the outset of the meeting, Sue Reay, chairman of the select board, said the board wanted to keep the municipal budget flat and the tax rate at $18.20 per $1,000 worth of property. “We can’t control the school budget,” she said. “That was voted in after the fact.”

Town Manager Stefan Pakulski said that as proposed on the town warrant, supporting the municipal and school expeditures would require an increase to $18.40 per $1,000 worth of property.

“Financially your town is strong,” Pakulksi said in summarizing the auditor’s report in a presentation at the start of the meeting.

He said the $5.5 million budget proposed for the upcoming year was lower than the previous years because it did not include a $700,000 road bond, but it had the tax increase because the town had to pay more for the schools.

Voters were still dealing with warrant articles late Thursday at Readfield Elementary School.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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