China budget committee holds final spring meeting

by Mary Grow

CHINA, ME — China Budget Committee members held their final spring 2022 meeting on March 31, rediscussing a few of the proposed 2022-23 expenditures and making recommendations on warrant articles.

Ultimately, budget committee members changed only one proposed figure. At Elizabeth Curtis’ suggestion, and on a split vote, they recommended reducing the contingency fund appropriation from $123,80 to $88,290.

When select board members reviewed the draft warrant at their April 4 special meeting, they unanimously accepted the lower figure.

Curtis insisted that funds will not be needed to cover increased health insurance costs if a town employee with a policy covering only him – or herself leaves and is replaced by an employee who elects more expensive family coverage. The gap in salary while the position is unfilled and, if necessary, leeway in other expenditure lines should be adequate, she said.

Budget committee members also advised voters to reject one proposed expenditure. The list of projects to be funded with federal ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) money includes buying a portable speed control sign that Hapgood said could also be used for announcements, like a road closing.

The amount proposed is $20,000. Hapgood had found two signs to consider, so far; one was 45 by 80 inches and solar-powered, the other 48 by 96 inches with batteries.

Only Curtis and Trishea Story supported the expenditure. Committee chairman Thomas Rumpf, Kevin Maroon and Michael Sullivan voted against it and Timothy Basham abstained.

Five other proposed ARPA expenditures got unanimous support: $20,000 for two new generators for the town office complex; $38,000 for 911 identifying numbers on each house; $33,000 for a digital sign on Route 32 South, shared with the South China volunteer fire department; and $5,000 for future senior events and activities – maybe a bus trip, Hapgood suggested.

Curtis cast the only “no” vote on the recommendation for $15,212 from ARPA funds for extra pay for town employees who worked through the pandemic.

Sullivan asked whether putting up the 911 numbers would be mandatory, thinking of homeowners who might object on aesthetic grounds. Hapgood, thinking of the need for emergency personnel to find the right address in a hurry, said no; but if only most houses were visibly numbered, it would be helpful.

On an earlier article, Sullivan pointed out that the proposed cemetery budget of $49,500 is a substantial increase over the current year and more than double the $24,000 appropriated in fiscal year 2020-21.

There has been an unusual amount of tree damage from storms, and the cost of mowing will go up, replied Curtis, who is a member of China’s Cemetery Committee. Hapgood added stone repairs and the plan to hire a summer intern to catalog and photograph graves and create a computer file.


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