SKOWHEGAN — Voters on Monday OK’d a $15.7 million municipal budget that includes the largest single payment the town will make on the planned public safety building.

Residents gathered at the Skowhegan Opera House for an annual Town Meeting that featured a 68-article warrant. One of the reasons the town budget is rising from $13.6 million is a payment of $592,000 the town is making on the public safety building.

Construction of the $8.25 million building that will house the town’s fire and police departments is scheduled to begin this month, with town officials aiming to move into the space next May. Work has already begun at the corner of East Madison Road and Dunlop Lane and a groundbreaking ceremony is planned for June 21.

Another factor in the larger municipal budget this year is wages and benefits, which are up more than 17%, at $7.2 million.

Fire Chief Shawn Howard said at the meeting that adjustments by his department cover benefits for three new firefighter positions.

“Through union contract negotiations, what played out is a change in the hours that firefighters work,” Howard said. “Currently they work 53 hours a week and we’re moving to a 42-hour week.”


In reducing the work week to 42 hours, the money saved is enough to cover wages for three new firefighters, which is why benefits were the only item sought in the funding request.

Capital reserve funding saw an increase this year of 19%, with the majority of the money allocated for sidewalks and roads. The request was just over $1 million in spending, an increase of $260,000 from last year.

Other major expenses on the annual budget included nearly $2 million for the Police Department, $1.2 million for the Fire Department, about $946,000 for solid waste and recycling, and about $629,000 for parks and recreation.

Officials will also utilize $1.85 million in surplus. Under the request, $75,000 will be placed in the Opera House reserve account and $1.7 million to lower the tax commitment. Town Manager Christine Almand said Tuesday that it is too soon to determine what the annual mill rate will be.

Residents also approved the purchase of property at 8 Mount Pleasant Ave., a $95,000 expense paid out of the town’s Sappi mill tax increment financing account. The item will benefit the planned Skowhegan River Park, specifically trail access near the property.

Monday’s meeting opened with a presentation of the Spirit of America Award, which was given to police Chief David Bucknam for “commendable community service,” according to selectmen Chairman Todd Smith.


The local election ballot featured races for the Board of Selectmen and for the Maine School Administrative District 54 board of directors.

Incumbents Steven Govoni and Paul York were vying for another term as selectmen, facing challenges from Benjamin Ducharme and Harvey Austin Jr.

Incumbent Michael Lambke was one of the candidates seeking a term on the MSAD 54 board, along with Rebecca Chretien, Sara Smith and Timothy Williams.

Voting was conducted Tuesday but the results were not available in time for the Morning Sentinel’s print deadline.

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