Vassalboro Budget Committee members used their March 1 organizational meeting for a preliminary, partial review of the proposed 2018-19 municipal budget developed by Town Manager Mary Sabins and town selectmen.
As the meeting ended, they tentatively scheduled future meetings for March 8, primarily to talk with town department heads (Road Foreman Eugene Field, Transfer Station Manager George Hamar, Police Chief Mark Brown, Fire Chief Eric Rowe or a representative, First Responders Chief Dan Mayotte); March 20 with the school board; and March 22 with representatives of three nonprofit organizations asking for town funds.
- Interested residents are welcome at all budget committee meetings – especially, Selectman Lauchlin Titus said, residents who might seek election to the committee in June. John Melrose’s seat is vacant, because he was elected to the board of selectmen in last November’s special election.
Likely topics for the March 8 discussion include new vehicles for the public works department and the police chief, a new roof for the Riverside fire station and mileage reimbursement for First Responders.
Sabins said Field is ready to buy a new truck while the one he drives has trade-in value; selectmen prefer to wait a year. The police cruiser raises the same question: replace it now, or wait until next year (and increase the 2018-19 maintenance budget). Firefighters want $25,000 for a metal roof on the Riverside station, including replacing the fairly new shingles on the addition so snow sliding off the metal won’t damage them. Titus said a complication is that the town does not own the building, though he said the fire department might consider turning over ownership. Budget committee member and firefighter Donald Breton said the department’s deed says if the department ceases to exist, the land reverts to the previous owner’s heirs, but he does not know whether any are still alive.
Sabins said the first responders answered more than 300 calls last year. They request $3,500 for mileage reimbursement (not for stipends). Newly-elected budget committee Chairman Rick Denico said he recently witnessed a traffic accident and was pleased at how quickly Vassalboro First Responders and firefighters reached the scene.
Budget committee members will probably not ask to hear from representatives of non-profit organizations and social service agencies that received funds for the current year and submitted written requests for 2018-19. They would like to meet on March 22 with people from 47 Daisies, The Town Line newspaper and the China Region Lakes Alliance.
According to its website, 47 Daisies is a community farm on Webber Pond Road offering naturally grown produce (the web site lists vegetables, berries and mushrooms) and flowers, educational programs and public access to the property. The organization asks for $2,500 in town support, its first request. (ep)
The Town Line has applied for town funds previously, but not for the last few years, so its request for $3,000 is being treated as new. The China Region Lakes Alliance is open for discussion because Sabins and selectmen recommend only one-third of the requested $15,000 and because at least one Vassalboro resident has expressed interest in talking with the budget committee.
Other points from the March 1 meeting:
- The selectmen and Sabins present different recommendations for the 2018-19 administration budget, primarily because Sabins recommends three percent employee raises and selectmen recommend two percent.
- Sabins reported that the new Fiberight plant will not be ready to receive waste from Vassalboro’s transfer station by the scheduled April 1 opening date – the delay might last most of 2018. In the interim, she said, Vassalboro’s waste will go to the Crossroads Landfill in Norridgewock, at the same tipping fee ($70 per ton) and a lower trucking fee ($200 per load versus $225) because of the shorter distance.
- The Cemetery Committee is asking for $40,000, mostly for mowing and to begin computerizing cemetery records. Sabins said she is applying for the second time for a grant to help with the records and expects a decision before the town meeting warrant is final. Meanwhile, she said, Vassalboro “has no cemetery records to speak of”; a volunteer census in the 1990s compiled lists of names, but without tying them to graves.
- Sabins reported discouragingly low ridership on the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program (KVCAP) buses serving Vassalboro and China, despite a survey that found transportation the most needed service in town. Nonetheless, she recommended continuing the program for another year. KVCAP has asked for $1,450, she said. She added that FAVOR (Friends Advocating for Vassalboro’s Older Residents), prime mover in starting the bus service, will sponsor a second senior service fair in May, in the planned community center in the former St. Bridget’s Church in North Vassalboro.
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