China budget committee approves selectmen spending recommendations

by Mary Grow

China Budget Committee members approved selectmen’s spending recommendations for the 2021-22 fiscal year at an hour-long meeting March 2.

Most votes were unanimous; two appropriations were recommended by votes of 5 to 1.

Tom Rumpf dissented on the vote to appropriate $26,471 to support FirstPark, the Oakland-based business park to which China and 23 other area municipalities contribute. The FirstPark question is Article 15 in the 26-article warrant.

Elizabeth Curtis dissented on Art. 26, the request to authorize spending for each category to continue at the current year’s level if town meeting voters reject the proposed 2021-22 amount. She asked if the article meant that voters would have no chance to have the question explained, objections answered and a revote held.

Town Manager Becky Hapgood replied that depending on the question, a revote could be scheduled. Because of requirements for written-ballot voting, it would take a couple months to organize a second vote.

Some committee members abstained on votes to avoid possible conflicts of interest. For example, three fire department members abstained on the vote to recommend $107,500 for community support organizations, because the total includes what used to be called firefighters’ stipends and are now considered gifts in appreciation of service.

Rumpf, president of the China Four Seasons Club, abstained on two votes related to snowmobiling, and Tim Basham abstained on the vote to fund cemetery maintenance and improvements, because Basham’s Tree Service often gets contracts to take down dangerous trees in cemeteries.

Having completed their review of the warrant, the budget committee adjourned without setting another meeting date.

Voters will act on the proposed expenditures, policy issues and other items by written ballot on Tuesday, June 8. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the former portable classroom behind the town office.

A public hearing on the town meeting warrant is tentatively scheduled for Monday evening, April 26. Hapgood plans to put as much information as possible on the town website and Facebook page and in the twice-a-month mailings from the town office.


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