by Mary Grow
The Town of Vassalboro’s savings – its so-called unassigned or undesignated fund balance, once known as surplus, plus designated funds like cemetery trust funds – are unlikely to be affected as the United States stock market bounces up and down. Investment advisor Matt Weaver, of First Advisors, told selectmen at their Feb. 8 meeting that the town is conservatively invested, with no more than 25 percent in the stock market and the rest in more stable bonds (mostly short-term) and certificates of deposit.
Last year, Weaver said, Vassalboro gained 6.73 percent on its portfolio. He believes, and Town Manager Mary Sabins agreed, that in seven years with First Advisors the town has had a positive return every year. Weaver recommended and selectmen unanimously approved renewing the town’s investment policy, which sets safety of principal as the first goal, liquidity second and “a reasonable rate of return” third.
Most of the rest of the Feb. 8 meeting was devoted to other matters related to money. Board members approved with minor changes Sabins’ request for proposals for alewife harvesting. Proposals from harvesters interested in working in Vassalboro are due at the town office by 11 a.m. Friday, March 2.
Selectmen were not pleased to learn that taxes on Vassalboro’s gravel pit in China had risen from around $200 to around $1,500. Sabins had talked with Vassalboro’s and China’s assessors; selectmen asked her to find out from the Maine Municipal Association whether a municipality, like Vassalboro, is tax-exempt in another municipality. If it is not, they talked about appealing the increase.
Two Cemetery Committee members asked for and received approval to use most of the remaining money in the Cross Hill cemetery fund, acquired by the town with the cemetery, to hire an expert to repair Cross Hill cemetery stones. Jane Aiudi and Jody Kundreskas said interested people will be invited to watch and learn during the week the expert is in Vassalboro.
Board members and a resident talked about other residents who violate the honor system at the sand shed and take more than the two buckets of sand allowed. One person planning to get sand to make steps and sidewalks safer for elderly neighbors found there was none left.
Sabins gave selectmen the first draft of the proposed 2018-19 budget, triggering a series of meetings preparing for the annual town meeting on June 4 (with elections and any written-ballot items Tuesday, June 12). Selectmen were scheduled to hold an afternoon budget workshop Feb. 13. Their next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, preceded by a 6 p.m. Kennebec County district caucus to choose a member of the county budget committee.
The Vassalboro Budget Committee’s first meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, March 1, in the town office.
In addition, a public hearing on the Vassalboro Sanitary District’s application for a Community Development Block Grant is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, at the town office. More information on the hearing and ways for interested residents to comment on the application is on the town’s website.
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