FAIRFIELD — After more than two hours of competing motions and spending compromises at Monday night’s Town Meeting, final budget numbers calculated Tuesday fell right in the middle of recommendations from the Town Council and the Budget Committee.

The final budget for the coming year is $5.55 million, which is up 1.38 percent over the current budget, which expires June 30. The Budget Committee had recommended about $5.54 million, not including schools or county tax. The Town Council recommended about $5.57 million.

Some of the spending articles Monday night came with two recommendations — one from the council and another from the Budget Committee. Because money articles can be decreased but not increased, the recommendation with the highest amount was the one listed in the article, but that didn’t stop residents from debating and changing spending lines.

Town Manager Michelle Flewelling said the main change from projected spending was an added $8,463 for the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, for which the Budget Committee and the council had recommended spending no money because they saw it as a duplication of services with membership in the Central Maine Growth Council.

Voters overwhelmingly agreed to support KVCOG for another year.

Early in the meeting Monday night, it took four motions and four separate votes to add a total of $4 to the general government account. Residents, including Budget Committee Chairman Dick Fortier, sought common ground in disputed articles by whittling down costs for fuel, which had been allowed to stay the same this year as they were last year, despite vastly different winter weather, Flewelling said.

When the town converted municipal buildings’ heating systems two years ago from oil to natural gas, it was in the middle of the season, which made it difficult to adjust what the expectations would be for heating, Flewelling said. Last year voters agreed to keep the fuel budget where it was and “let it ride” into the coming year. Voters Monday night opted to carve some of the budget lines for heat and fuel, resulting in modest changes in spending, she said.

“It wasn’t by very much — a couple of thousand in various departments,” Flewelling said. “They also voted to reduce spending on gasoline and oil for the Police Department and the Fire Department.”

Monday night was Flewelling’s first Town Meeting as town manager since coming to Fairfield from Norridgewock in December. She said the meeting went well. She said the turnout was higher than expected, largely because of work being done by the Fairfield Charter Commission, which is stressing that voter turnout is essential to reflecting the wishes of the town as a whole.

“We’ve tried to get the word out that it’s your responsibility to be part of your government,” she said. “As town residents, it’s your responsibility to be part of your government, and we’ve been promoting that.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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