Paris Town Meeting takes on budget, lot size

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PARIS — Voters will weigh in on a municipal budget that has slightly decreased from the current one, along with a mill rate that is projected to remain flat, on Saturday at annual town meeting.

Residents will be able to cast their votes on the 33-article warrant, beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Paris Fire Station at 137 Western Ave.

The town’s fiscal 2016 operating budget comes in at roughly $4.2 million, with expenses increased by $99,351 over the current budget.

Town Clerk Liz Knox said it’s basically a wash because revenues have been increased by $103,806, mostly from excise taxes, bank and tax interest. The overall net budget — expenses minus revenues — has decreased by $4,455, according to budget documents.

The majority of increases for the operating budget include 3 percent salary increases for all employees, a $4,000 raise for Town Manager Amy Bernard and capital improvements to cover unforeseen circumstances, including sewer and water main issues at the Police Department during the winter.

Paris will also have to contribute $269,052 to Oxford County, Knox said. The town’s projected contribution for School Administrative Unit 17 is $2,865,596, which is up $158,145 from the current budget, according to SAD 17 Business Manager Cathy Coffee.

The mill rate is estimated to remain at $17.90 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Residents will be asked whether or not they support to proposed changes to the town’s Comprehensive Plan. Currently, the minimum residential rural lot size is two acres with 250 feet of roadside frontage. The change would lower the requirements to one acre and 150 feet of roadside frontage, which was a compromise reached between residents and town officials during the fall. The question passed heartily at the ballot box on Tuesday, but still needs town meeting approval.

One article asks voters if they will use funds from the Pine Street Fire Station account to pave the Western Avenue Fire Station parking lot. Knox said there’s $94,000 in the account and Bernard previously said the account was discovered earlier this fiscal year during an audit.

Another article asks for approval of using the undesignated fund balance to purchase the two parking lots associated with the Mildred Fox School for $82,867. The appraisal on one parking lot came is roughly $2,000 too high and Knox said the total for the lots can be revised at town meeting floor.

One of the largest articles is for capital expenditures, totaling $694,500. It allocates money to 13 different projects and departments. They include Parks and Recreation for $8,000; Police Department building improvements for $11,000; Fire Department building improvements for $5,000; Highway Department building improvements for $5,000; Town Office building improvements for $12,500; road reconstruction for $525,000; computer equipment for $1,500; computer software for $1,500; police cruiser for $14,500; plow truck for $80,000; fire vehicle improvements for $10,000; fire equipment for $10,500 and $10,000 for the Mildred Fox School.

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