The proposed budget Pittston residents will vote on at Saturday’s Town Meeting is up slightly from what they approved last year, but about $10,000 of the increase won’t be recommended by the select board if residents agree to create a new contingency fund for unexpected expenses.

Half of the $60,000 increase over the current budget is a result of repairs needed at the town’s sand and salt shed, which underwent repairs last year to prevent the town’s insurance provider from dropping coverage of the structure, said Jane Hubert, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen.

The Town Meeting is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. Saturday at Pittston Consolidated School. Polls for the town election, with one contested race for a select board seat, will be open noon to 7 p.m. the following Monday at the town office.

If voters approve all warrant items Saturday, the town budget will increase by about 6 percent from the budget approved last year to a total of $993,050. However, the select board is recommending the voters approve raising $20,000 for a contingency fund and not approve the $10,500 in the warrant for legal services, unemployment insurance and septic system replacement. Hubert said having the contingency budget would allow the town to spend more if an emergency warranted it. The board would still need to hold a special town meeting to spend the money in the contingency fund, according to the warrant article.

The largest budget line increase in this year’s town warrant is the $32,000 for repairs to the town’s sand and salt shed. Voters at a special town meeting last June approved using $32,000 from the town’s capital improvements account to pay for repairs to the supply shed. Hubert said Maine Municipal Association, which provides the town risk insurance, would have dropped coverage for the structure if the town didn’t do the repairs last year, but a wall still needs to be replaced.

Residents at the special town meeting in June also approved using $5,000 originally appropriated for holding cleanup days to get rid of bulky waste items to pay Richmond to allow residents to use Richmond’s transfer station instead. The warrant for Saturday’s Town Meeting proposes continuing to use Richmond’s transfer station on a trial basis to dispose of bulky waste for annual cost of $15,000.

Pittston needed to find another place for residents to dispose of items such as mattresses and old TVs because the select board ended the town’s contract with the city of Augusta’s Hatch Hill Solid Waste Disposal Facility in 2013. That saved about $40,000 a year, but the alternative waste site identified as a replacement for residents, Pine Tree Waste in West Bath, isn’t open on weekends.

A couple of residents have requested the town consider rejoining Hatch Hill, but it’s not clear yet if the city of Augusta would be interested, Hubert said.

Hubert said it’s not clear yet how the proposed budget increase would affect the town’s tax rate of $13.10 per $1,000 of assessed value. The town doesn’t yet know how much the town will owe the school district or county, and it’s unclear whether the state will cut revenue sharing the town receives.

“If we lose state revenue sharing, you’re going to see the mill rate fly, I think, but we’re hopeful” revenue sharing won’t decrease, Hubert said.

One change as a result of a vote at last year’s Town Meeting is tax bills will now be sent out in two installments instead of one, she said.

In the town election, Selectwoman Mary Jean Ambrose is facing Scott F. Hess for the seat she has held since winning a four-way race in 2013 to replace Tim Marks, who resigned as the result of a recall petition.

Ambrose, a part-time teacher at Hall-Dale High School, said she’s running for re-election because she wants to continue to help the town run well. Ambrose, 59, said she thinks the town is moving in a positive direction, including participating in meetings with several other towns in the region to find ways to save money or improve services. The group, which also includes officials from Chelsea, Palermo, Randolph, Windsor and Whitefield, met with state legislators Monday to discuss the potential impact of Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed budget.

“I think we just need to continue doing what we’re doing and working to make things operate better,” Ambrose said of town officials in Pittston. “I think we have a pretty good team.”

Her opponent, Hess, is an attorney with a law firm in Augusta. He said he sees becoming a selectman as the best way to serve and give back to his community.

Hess, 34, said as an attorney, it’s his job to solve people’s problems, and he would use those skills to represent the town. He said it’s important to encourage people to give the select board feedback and ensure people know where to go to have any concerns addressed.

Hess said he would like to see the town embrace technology a bit more, but he thinks the best way to serve the town is to critically evaluate any issue or change presented.

“One of the nice things about Pittston is it’s sort of designed to be a smaller town and sort of simple,” Hess said, “so any changes that might be warranted would probably be looked at closely.”

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig


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