RICHMOND — Town residents will consider a municipal spending plan that’s essentially flat when they vote at Tuesday’s annual Town Meeting.

“We’re actually spending not a whole lot more than last year,” Richmond Town Manager Janet Smith said. “It’s $73,623.”

While it’s too soon to know exactly what mill rate would result from the proposed budget, Smith said she anticipates a 1.2 percent, or 25-cent, increase. Richmond’s current mill rate is $19.55 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, and it’s anticipated to be $19.74 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

“I’m pleased how the budget came out this year,” said O’Neil LaPlante Jr., chairman of the Richmond Board of Selectmen.

The town’s share of the proposed increase to the mill rate is 8 cents, he said.

“We’ve been doing well in providing services and doing the best job we can at a price we can afford,” he said.

While the proposed spending increase is relatively small, compared to the town’s $2.3 million proposed budget, it reflects some changes for the town in northern Sagadahoc County.

Elected officials have been planning to establish a new emergency medical services department this year, and some of that the increase — $19,728 — will be directed that way. And town officials are also working to hire a part-time, year-round recreation director, which is a new position.

To pay for the recreation position, town officials expect to use the $12,000 that had been previously budgeted for the summer recreation program. The year-round position starts at 20 hours a week.

“Conjecture is fine,” LaPlante said, “but let’s try it this way. If we find we have a greater need we’ll review it. We have to start somewhere.”

At the same time, the bill for ambulance services, provided by Gardiner Ambulance, has increased, as has the state minimum wage. And, Smith said, this is a contract year for the town’s union employees.

As expenses have gone up, Smith said, so have revenues — by $79,215 — which includes increased bank interest income and excise tax.

LaPlante said town officials had planned to ask for $140,000 for a new dump truck to replaced a 15-year-old truck, but the town may not need to spend that money in the next year.

“We sent the old truck out for a complete exam at a garage and they came up with a price of $5,000 to bring the truck up to snuff. So we may be able to wait a year to replace it. We found out after the warrant had gone to the printers,” he said.

This year’s warrant incorporates a change in policy. In previous years, the warrant articles would be worded so that voters could make amendments from the floor to the budget either up or down; the funding amount was not included in the article.

This year, the selectmen chose to cap the warrant articles, Smith said. Voters can opt to accept the amount presented or to lower it.

“If there had been articles that both boards (the Board of Selectmen and the budget committee) did not agree on, they probably would not have gone with a capped article for that,” she said.

“One of the biggest issues is that this year we’ll lose an additional $5,000 in valuation due to the increase in the Homestead Exemption,” Smith said.

The exemption level, which is set by the state, increases from $15,000 to $20,000 this year. With 1,000 households signed up of the exemption, that translates to a loss of $5 million in valuation. The state has promised to reimburse municipalities for 62.5 percent of that loss.

This year, the annual Town Meeting will take place at 6 p.m., June 5 at Richmond High School, and the election will follow a week later on June 12.

This year, six people are seeking election to two seats on the Board of Selectmen.

One of those seats is currently held by LaPlante, who is running for reelection. The other is vacant because of the death earlier this year of Selectman Gary Poulin.

The other candidates seeking election are Randy Bodge, Marilynn Grizkewitsch, Abben Maguire, Mark Taylor and Brian Woodbury.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ


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