Heath explains redesigned town meeting warrant

by Mary Grow

CHINA — Town Manager Dennis Heath explained the revised town report and redesigned town business meeting warrant to two dozen residents at an informational session held March 24 at the library in China Village. The 2018 town report is in four sections: the usual lists of officials, overdue taxes, deaths and marriages and information on town organizations, followed by three addenda: a 43-page audit report for the fiscal year that ended June 31, 2018; Heath’s summary and explanation of the budget proposed for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2019; and the warrant for the April 6 town business meeting.

The town business meeting begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 6, at China Middle School, if the 119 voters required for a quorum are present. Pre-meeting presentations and notices are scheduled to begin about 8:40 a.m.

Heath said he started budget preparation in October 2018, working with heads of town departments to develop a budget that would meet their needs without raising taxes for municipal services. The school budget and the Kennebec County budget requirement are outside the town’s control. Summarizing some of the changes, Heath said:

  • China will need about $400,000 less for road work because two major culvert replacements were finished last year, with some of the money coming from taxes;
  • The public works department will have an additional full-time employee so that no snowplowing will be contracted out and routine vehicle repairs can be done in-house; and
  • Expenses have been made clearer by assigning costs to appropriate individuals and departments, instead of having, for example, a separate warrant article lumping all insurances.

The result is elimination of 13 accounts, reduction of the April 6 warrant to 31 articles (there were 43 articles in 2018) and, Heath promised, a meeting that will last less than five hours.

Copies of the report are available at the town office and other public places in town. The manager encouraged voters to read it before the meeting so they will understand for what they are voting.

The budget committee and the selectboard agree in their recommendations on all but two warrant articles, including the major expenditures for administration, public works and the transfer station.

On Art. 9, fire and rescue services, the budget committee recommends$181,499 and the selectboard $171, 199, for reasons firefighters and selectmen have explained (see The Town Line, March 14, page 8, and March 21, page 1).

On Art. 23, asking voters to increase the selectmen’s annual stipends from $1,000 to $1,800, four selectmen recommend approval (the fifth was absent) and five budget committee members recommend denial (Chairman Robert Batteese was the only supporter, with one member absent).


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