ROME — Residents Saturday will consider a $596,217 budget at the annual Town Meeting, including $16,200 in new funding for repairs to the Wings Mills Dam.

The dam is one of three overseen by the Belgrade Regional Dams Committee, a group of volunteers appointed by the municipalities of Belgrade, Oakland and Rome, to handle maintenance and operations of the dams around the Belgrade Lakes. Expenses are split between the three towns based on their shoreline proportions.

The dams include Wings Mills Dam on Long Pond, the Great Pond Dam and the Dam at Salmon Lake.

Funding for the three has been debated by officials in Rome recently, with some saying the dams committee did not communicate enough with town officials ahead of budget season. They were surprised to see the committee again ask for $5,400, which was the amount granted last year but represents a significant increase from previous years.

Voting on that and other items in the annual budget will take place at Town Meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Rome Community Center. Elections will be held from noon to 8 p.m. Friday at the community center.

On the funding for the dams, the board of selectmen is recommending $2,700 for operations and maintenance while the budget committee voted 5-0 against that recommendation.

“The sentiment was there was a lack of budgetary information, and it seemed very rushed,” LaBelle said. He said the budget committee wanted to see $4,000 in funding, but selectmen did not approve that amount.

Selectmen were also divided 2-1 on funding an additional $16,200 for Rome’s share of improvements to the Wings Mills Dam. The budget committee has recommended funding the repairs 5-0.

“The committee hasn’t effectively communicated with the town in advance of budget season, and that’s what caused the gap in approval from the board of selectmen,” LaBelle said. He said Selectman Malcolm Charles voted against recommending the funding for Wings Mills Dam.

Doug McCafferty, of Belgrade, chair of the Belgrade Regional Dams Committee, said his group met with selectmen and the budget committee about a month ago to discuss their request and answer questions.

“They still decided not to fund it,” he said. “I’m not sure of their reasoning since we explained everything to them and answered all their questions.”

McCafferty said the $5,400 the committee requested is most likely a one-time request unless there are problems with the dams. “We’re just trying to replenish the funds we have in case of emergencies,” he said.

Rome’s proposed $596,217 budget represents a less than 1 percent increase from the current $595,932.

The town is budgeting $10,000 in legal fees this year, up from the current $5,000, to deal with two pending cases. One involves land use and an application to build a home on Route 27, and the other is dealing with a junkyard violation the town has taken enforcement action on, LaBelle said.

Selectmen are also recommending voters approve a 51 percent decrease in the overdraft budget from $24,790 in 2018 to $12,097 for 2019.

LaBelle said the decrease is based on the board approving a policy in the last year requiring department heads to come to them for approval of any purchases over $250.

“It was just a general trend in a couple departments that led to that,” LaBelle said. “As a board, we end up signing bills after the fact, and that’s really not a healthy process for taxpayer funds to be managed. So we’ve decided to keep a closer eye on that and ask for a head’s up on those larger transactions.”

In elections, LaBelle is being challenged by Paul Anderson for his seat as First Selectman, Assessor and Overseer of the Poor.

Lois Stratton is running uncontested for Second Selectman, Assessor and Overseer of the Poor.

Two candidates, Kelly Archer and Barbara Russell, are competing for Third Selectman, Assessor and Overseer of the Poor.

Other uncontested candidates are Tammy Lyons, running for treasurer; Tammy Lyons, running for property tax collector; and Abby DiPietro, running for town clerk.

 

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368
[email protected] 
Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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