SKOWHEGAN — Residents will get a chance to vote Monday at Town Meeting on the $11.3 million proposed budget for the coming year. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Skowhegan Opera House, upstairs from municipal offices on Water Street.

Polls will be open for the election of town officers from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Municipal Building.

Town Manager Christine Almand said the proposed spending package for the coming fiscal year is $11,332,307, which is up $547,978, or about 5 percent over the current budget that was approved last June at Town Meeting.

The tax rate going into Monday’s meeting stands at $20 for every $1,000 in property valuation.

Almand said increases can be seen in wages and benefits across the board for municipal employees. She said wages are up $55,000 in the proposed budget, while benefits, including health insurance, are up about $184,000, or 12.6 percent.

In the employee line of the budget, Almand said there is a proposal to increase the hours of two employees from part time to full time. One would be a collections clerk in the front office and another would be a seasonal winter position at the Highway Department.

Almand said other increases are proposed in capital reserve accounts in the amount of $201,000 for all town departments. The majority of the increase is in the Highway Department for roads and sidewalks, for about $150,000.

“The Budget Committee and the selectmen are both seeing a need to do more roadwork,” Almand said. “Infrastructure needs are something that communities all across the country are dealing with, so we’re addressing that by increasing the reserve accounts.”

General assistance spending is up about $38,000 as town officials “try to put forth a more realistic budget,” Almand said. “Year after year we’ve gone over on our budget,” and the increase reflects what the town actually is spending on general assistance, she said.

Other big-ticket spending lines at Town Meeting include:

• $1,569,299 for general government, including the Finance Department, the town manager’s office, building maintenance and economic and community development.

• $1,453,092 for the Police Department.

• $849,863 for the Fire Department.

• $858,821 for solid waste management.

• $471,792 for summer roads.

• $655,458 for winter roads.

• $467,657 for Parks and Recreation.

• $1,681,132 for capital expenditures and debt retirement.

Almand said this year the Budget Committee and the Board of Selectmen have agreed on almost all of the spending proposals. One article that there is disagreement on is in Article 32 — funding for the Skowhegan Free Public Library. The other bone of contention is how to use surplus money this year.

Selectmen, in a 3-2 vote, recommend $107,775 for the library; while the Budget Committee, in a 4-2 vote, recommend $120,294, which is the request made by the library and the most that can be raised and appropriated for the library.

Currently there is $3.8 million in the town’s surplus account, Almand said. The recommended level for surplus is just under $2.3 million, leaving $1.5 million that can be tapped this year.

Recommendations in Articles 45-48 for using surplus money this year include $18,000 for the Police Department to replace the 1960s-era Department of Defense patrol rifles and to buy a video camera system for one of the patrol cars still without one; $100,000 for roads and sidewalks, which would leverage $70,000 from the state for paving North Avenue; $300,000 for the ball field compound and either $1 million (selectmen) or $600,000 (Budget Committee) to reduce the tax rate, depending on which recommendation is taken.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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