SKOWHEGAN — Voters approved funding for the library in Skowhegan and agreed to buy a piece of land for a new public safety building at the annual Town Meeting Monday night. Voters also approved an $11.3 million budget for the coming year.

Residents breezed through early voting on a spending package of $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.

Before Monday’s 2.5 hour Town Meeting, Skowhegan Town Manager Christine 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.

Skowhegan residents approved these other spending lines Monday night:

• $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 area that there is disagreement is in Article 32 — funding for the Skowhegan Free Public Library; another 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. Residents approved the requested amount with no discussion.

Voters also agreed to use $1 million in surplus to reduce the tax rate in the coming year.

Residents approved initiating an ordinance that prohibits registered sex-offenders from living near schools or designated safe zones around playgrounds and ball fields.

The most discussion Monday night came during debate on whether to authorize the Board of Selectmen to purchase a piece of property off East Madison Road for a combined police and fire department for $55,000.

Skowhegan voters also agreed to adopt the Somerset County rural cultural plan.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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