WEST PARIS — When voters head to Annual Town Meeting on Saturday, March 3, they will weigh in on a roughly $1.2 million budget, which includes an increased contribution to Oxford County and higher wages for some employees.
Town Meeting action gets underway at 10 a.m. at Agnes Gray Elementary School at 170 Main St.
Selectman candidate nominations are taken from the floor. Selectboard Chairman Mike Grass’s term is up and whoever is elected will serve for the next three years.
Town Manager Wade Rainey’s proposed budget is $1,217,047, up $32,619 over the current budget. Selectmen and the Budget Committee have recommended slightly smaller budgets at $1,213,387 and $1,212,887, respectively.
Rainey said he hasn’t calculated the projected mil rate yet since the town will have new property assessments, as he proposed $10,000 for a reevaluation. The current mil rate is $18.90 per $1,000 of assessed value.
“I think, overall, the budget is not much more than last year. There’s some things we had no control over,” Rainey said, such as higher fuel costs, higher computer software fees and increased prices in goods. “We held the line pretty close – the selectboard and Budget Committee.”
The town’s contribution to Oxford County for 2018 is $99,441, up from $83,000, according to Rainey. West Paris will continue to pay SAD 17 $74,166 a month until a new school district budget is voted on in June. Grass noted these funding items in a letter to the citizens of West Paris in the town report.
“We will face some head winds in 2018 with a proposed increase in county taxes by 8 percent and with the uncertainty of school funding from the state, we will have to remain vigilant with our internal controls – we need to control what we can control,” he said.
The Highway Department has the biggest proposed increase of $18,725 with Rainey’s recommended budget of $343,525. Selectmen and the Budget Committee jointly recommend a budget of $343,750.
“Winter roads, that was a big increase for winter sand. We’re going to have 3,000 yards again this year,” Rainey said, adding the other big increase is in wages. “They don’t make exactly minimum wage – a little bit more to make it more attractive … and they have to go up this year.”
Rainey said the increases in the general government budget are from wage increases. His proposed budget is $343,045, up $2,485. The Budget Committee and selectmen recommend $346,045.
All three entities recommend:
- $293,620 for administration
- $19,900 for assessing
- $14,400 for building maintenance.
The public safety budget is proposed to increase by $4,043 to $151,510 under Rainey’s proposal, including more wages in the Fire Department. Selectmen and the Budget Committee both recommended $150,740.
Rainey’s budget would increase the Fire Department’s budget by $5,600 to $94,050.
“We have more firefighters than we have had in quite a while,” he added, as now there’re 21 people on the roster and the town pays for state-mandated training. “And it’s a crapshoot – we don’t know how many fires we’ll go on.”
Rainey, selectmen and the Budget Committee recommend:
- $13,500 for street lights
- $1,560 for emergency management
- $6,900 for animal control.
The Public Works Department’s budget is projected to increase by $9,540 to $102,540 if voters approve Rainey’s proposal. This includes $99,190 for the Transfer Station, $2,900 for cemeteries and $450 for veterans’ memorials.
Selectmen and the Budget Committee recommend $150,740 for Public Works with a slightly smaller Transfer Station budget of $98,255.
Rainey’s proposed community service budget is down by $2,999 at $86,665. This includes $27,180 for ambulance, $500 each for Tri-County Mental Health, Community Concepts, REACH, SeniorsPlus and Androscoggin Home Care & Hospice, $6,500 for Explorers afterschool program, $36,185 for the West Paris Public Library, $7,750 for the Athletic Association, $800 for swim lessons and $5,750 for the ballfield.
Selectmen recommend $81,484 and the Budget Committee proposed $80,985 for community service, both recommending less money for the ambulance service.
All three recommend $150,000 for capital improvements. If approved, $70,000 would go to equipment and highway projects each and $10,000 for library improvements. Rainey, selectmen and the Budget Committee also recommend $4,100 for General Assistance.
To view the full 45-article warrant ahead of Saturday’s Annual Town Meeting, visit www.westparisme.com/ and click on 2017 Town Report.
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