In approving the $1.2 million warrant presented by the Whitefield Board of Selectmen Saturday, voters embraced a policy change in budgeting, at least for this year.

To pay for the town’s anticipated spending during the budget year, the selectmen identified all sources of revenue to reduce property tax, rather than building up a surplus over time to use that at a future date.

“We decided to reduce taxes in the moment, rather than wait for a surplus, Tony Marple, chairman of the Whitefield Board of Selectmen said, noting that the town is in a good financial position.

“We don’t want to be carrying a surplus,” Marple said. “The money should be in (residents’) banks, not ours.”

About 85 people gathered at the Whitefield School to review the selectmen’s spending recommendations and to vote on them.

The only changes to the warrant were the decision to increase the amount of money taken from surplus from $50,000 to $100,000, and to decrease by $20,000 the amount allocated for snow plowing, because the winning contractor’s bid came in that much less than expected.

Voters approved routine town expenses as well as increased salaries for town employees. Officials also opted to move away from health insurance plans provided under the Affordable Care Act, and moved instead to a private insurance plan.

Marple said those proposals didn’t draw much comment.

Voters likewise supported a $7,000 increase to the town’s Fire Department budget, which has been flat for several years.

A year ago, voters approved $29,000 for renovations to the Whitefield Town Office. Most of that work has been completed, Marple said; only the carpeting remains.

Selectmen sought funding for an additional project and voters agreed to fund an additional project for the office — installing a generator. Following last October’s storm that knocked out power to more than 500,000 in Maine, the town office was without power for several days.

Voters approved the road budget — the largest chunk of the town’s spending — at $397,000.

Because some action is anticipated on the Leonard’s Bridge culvert on South Hunt’s Meadow Road, voters agreed to set aside $50,000 in this year’s budget to start saving to pay for the project.

Marple said the state Department of Transportation has notified Whitefield officials that the culvert will need attention, although officials are not sure yet whether the culvert can be repaired or must be replaced.

“There was one person who suggested that we redo all the roads and issue a bond to do it and make bond payments every year,” Marple said.

Because that didn’t appear on the warrant, residents could not vote on the idea. Marple said it’s something town elected officials can consider.

Marple said the town’s mill rate of $13.80 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, will probably increase, but it’s too soon to say by how much. The Regional School Unit 12 district budget has yet to go before voters and the Lincoln County budget is still being developed.

In Whitefield, the town election takes place by secret ballot the Friday before Town Meeting.

Selectman Lester Sheaffer, who ran unopposed, was elected to his third three-year term as selectman.

Jim Torbert and Jacob Matthews were re-elected to the Planning Board.

Two seats on the Regional School Unit 12 board were up for election. Incumbents Keith Marple and Tara DeLisle were the only candidates to file nomination papers and both were re-elected. Melinda Caron ran an unsuccessful write-in campaign against Keith Marple.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ


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