China committee takes first look at 2021-22 budget

by Mary Grow

China Budget Committee members held their first meeting on the proposed 2021-22 town budget Wednesday evening, Feb. 10. Town Manager Becky Hapgood presented the selectmen’s recommendations, expecting no immediate decisions.

Four topics drew brief discussion.

  • Committee member Elizabeth Curtis queried the request for funds for a building in the China School Forest behind China Primary School. Hapgood replied that proponent Anita Smith foresees using it for year-round programs for children and adults and for storing forest-related equipment and supplies. Smith had given no estimate of the number of people who might use the building.
  • Hapgood summarized the proposal to eliminate the local police force and instead contract for Kennebec County Sheriff’s deputies to cover China 10 hours a week, in addition to the regular patrols. She explained that the part-time officers from other departments who make up China’s local police often lack time to work as many hours as expected.
  • Committee Chairman Robert Batteese asked whether Palermo’s contributions for use of the China transfer station cover costs. Hapgood said selectmen planned to review the contract with Palermo at their Feb. 16 meeting and to talk with Palermo officials.
  • Hapgood said if China repaves the planned five miles of town road in 2021, repaving will be behind schedule. In 2020, she said, six miles of repaving were initially scheduled and four miles were done.

Budget committee members were still waiting for final recommendations from the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee on TIF contributions to the 2021-22 budget, and for bills from Kennebec County and FirstPark, in Oakland. The TIF Committee was scheduled to meet Wednesday evening, Feb. 17.

Committee members decided their next meeting should be to review the selectmen’s warrant for what was then expected to be the May 18 town business meeting, and discussed alternate dates depending on when selectmen put the warrant in final form.

However, selectmen at their Feb. 16 meeting rescheduled the town business meeting from May 18 to Tuesday, June 8, extending deadlines for pre-meeting preparations.


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