Selectmen to review nonprofit policy

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OXFORD – The Board of Selectmen will hold a special selectman’s meeting on Thursday, May 31 to discuss town-funded nonprofit funding requests.

Board members have been debating how to handle the annual requests from non-profits in the area after they differed with the Budget Committee in recommending zero dollars for two nonprofit agency requests coming before Annual Town Meeting on June 9.

This year voters will be asked to raise and appropriate the sum of up to $2,000 for Thompson Lake Environmental Association for milfoil eradication on Pine Point and up to $500 for Androscoggin Home & Hospice.

The Budget Committee has recommended that both requests be fully funded, but the Board of Selectmen has recommended zero funding.

At its April 26 meeting, the majority of the Board of Selectmen declined a request by the Thompson Lake Environmental Association to contribute money toward the eradication of milfoil. Instead, three of the four board members present, voted to recommend a zero amount. Selectman Scott Hunter was the dissenting vote.

Although Selectman Floyd Thayer called the reason for the financial request, “a good idea,” he said he had a problem with using taxpayers to help fund the project, and instead he suggested people contribute directly, if they choose to.

“If people want to donate that’s fine,” he said.

The discussion came after a presentation by Scott Bernardy who asked selectmen to fully support funding the article.

The board also denied the funding for the Androscoggin Home & Hospice at that meeting. No one was there to speak for that organization.

Kathleen Dillingham, chairman of the Budget Committee, told selectmen at its May 17 meeting that she believes an advertised public hearing should take place so that everyone, including taxpayers are aware of what is being sought and why.

Selectmen Chairman Pete Laverdiere, like other board members, said he believes taxpayers should not be forced to pay for nonprofit requests.

“I don’t think we should ask taxpayers for the money,” he said.

The board requested at its meeting on May 17 that  a policy could be written that would better define what might be supported.

Nonprofit agencies have traditionally sought and received money from taxpayers through annual town meetings, but during the recent years, many towns have stopped funding some of the agencies, particularly those who failed to send a representative to the meetings to explain how the money would be used.

Ultimately Oxford town meeting voters will be asked to make a decision on the two articles, when Annual Town Meeting gets underway Saturday, June 9 beginning at 10 a.m. in the Oxford Elementary School.

The selectmen’s special  meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the selectboard’s meeting room at the Town Office.

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