BUCKFIELD — Selectmen and the Budget Committee met jointly on Monday, May 15, to discuss the proposed fiscal 2018 budget that has a projected mil rate increase of $1.28.
The estimated mil rate is $22.80 per $1,000 of assessed value, according to Buckfield Town Manager Cindy Dunn. The current mil rate is $21.52. For a house valued at $125,000, the estimated tax increase is $162.
“It is a hard pill to swallow. I am not going to lie,” Dunn said.
The overall budget is $3,476,075, which is $185,888 more than the current one. This represents a 6 percent increase, with 3.78 percent of that increase coming from the town’s increased contribution to RSU 10. The remainder comes from increases in the town’s operating budget, which totals $1,821,335.
The town’s contribution to the school district for fiscal 2018 is $1,552,772, which is up $56,574. The town’s contribution to Oxford County is $101,968, which is up $2,448.
For administration, Dunn recommends $235,635, which is an increase of $46,650.
“Primarily that’s due to the need to put in a salary for the incoming town manager,” she said, as Dunn resigned as town manager effective Friday, June 30, when her contract is up. “I have included a benefits package for the new town manager.”
Three years ago, Dunn agreed to become town manager and continue to serve as town clerk to save Buckfield money. She is paid $61,800 for both jobs. As town clerk, she made roughly $34,000.
“In a sense you, over the past three years, you have been paying the town manager and affiliated duties $20,000,” she told selectmen.
For administration, the Budget Committee recommended $57,215, because members did not budget salary or benefits for the town manager, town clerk (which Dunn will remain as Saturday, July 1) or office assistant. This is because selectmen are in the process of hiring a consultant to examine the town’s structure.
Dunn presented a roads plan she and Road Foreman Tyler Belanger created for fiscal 2018. It includes eight roads with a bulk cost of $784,739. The proposal is to allocate $275,170 in the budget and get a loan for the remaining $509,569. Dunn projected a worst case scenario of a 15-year loan with a 4.5 percent interest rate and a payment of $46,820 annually. Doing the work in bulk would save the town more than $25,000, according to estimates.
The Budget Committee did not see the plan until Monday and did not issue a recommendation on it.
Dunn and department heads recommend $122,905 for the Fire Department, which is up $5,425. There are requests for a utility trailer for the Utility Task Vehicle (UTV) for $3,000, skid unit for the UTV for $2,500 and a used 4-by-4 flat bed truck for $11,050 to replace the 1965 forestry truck, which does not have power steering.
The Budget Committee recommends $103,480 for the Fire Department since members do not support the aforementioned requests or retrofitting the storage station on Loring Hill to store the skids for $500.
For the Recreation Committee, Dunn and department heads recommend $24,190, which is up $4,300. This is due to requests to purchase two batting cages for $3,500 and replacing the “unsafe” soccer goals for $2,000.
The Budget Committee recommends $19,740 and does not support the purchase of the batting cages. Members support the purchase of one soccer goal for $1,000.
For the Municipal Center, Dunn and department heads recommend $41,585, which is up $15,935. This is because of proposed work for the parking lot, loop and sidewalks, along with replacing the flooring in the bathrooms and kitchens, installing a carpet in the entryway and updating the sprinkler in the basement, which is required.
The Budget Committee recommends $38,685 and chose to focus on the outside work needed at the Municipal Center. Members could revisit the inside renovations next budget season.
For Public Works equipment, Dunn and department heads recommend $147,345, which is up $22,860. This is mostly due to the proposal to replace the “very rusty” body on the Sterling truck with a stainless steel one for roughly $22,000, according to Dunn.
The Budget Committee recommends $121,345 since members do not support the stainless steel replacement because they’re not sure if that’s the best option for the truck.
Other differing recommendations include:
- $198,580 for Rescue Department by Dunn/department heads; $196,180 by Budget Committee.
- $189,955 for solid waste and recycling by Dunn/department heads; $188,655 by Budge Committee.
- $39,000 for Zadoc Long Free Library by Dunn/department heads; $38,800 by Budget Committee.
- $4,190 for animal welfare by Dunn/department heads; $3,285 by Budget Committee.
- $3,250 for social services by Dunn/department heads; $3,000 by Budget Committee.
Rescue Department Chief Floyd “Chip” Richardson said on Monday he wants the Budget Committee reduction of $500 restored to $2,000 for advanced life support services because four calls requiring these services came in over the past couple weeks. The department’s budget has increased by $6,870, which is mostly due to an increase in worker’s compensation, according to Dunn.
Dunn, department heads and the Budget Committee have the same recommendations for the following:
- $7,210 for assessors/tax maps.
- $3,000 for General Assistance.
- $3,425 for organizations/local events.
- $19,210 for Public Works complex.
- $8,340 for cemetery maintenance.
- $6,700 for street lights.
- $139,215 for winter roads.
- $5,000 for overlay.
- $52,250 for hydrant rental.
- $500 for Old Church on the Hill.
- $10,000 for emergency contingency.
Selectmen recessed their meeting until 9 a.m. Monday, May 22, where they will finish going over the recommendations from the Budget Committee.