Town manager presents detailed budget proposal; Final resident input tentatively set for Feb. 5

by Mary Grow

China Budget Committee members and an audience that included town employees and volunteer firefighters heard Town Manager Dennis Heath’s detailed presentation of his proposed 2019-2020 budget at a Jan. 23 meeting.

Heath gave selectmen the same information at their Jan. 17 budget workshop. Currently, selectmen are scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, to put the April 6 town business meeting warrant in final form. If all goes as scheduled, that meeting will be the final chance for residents to try to influence selectmen’s budget recommendations.

Budget committee members will meet again on Feb. 11 to make their recommendations on each proposed expenditure, supporting the selectmen or suggesting voters approve a different amount.

Among points Heath and others made at the Jan. 23 meeting:

  • The proposed budget does not fund a cost of living or other across the board raise for town employees. Instead, there is money for merit raises and for bonuses (for example, holiday gifts).
  • Funds are included for the new part-time codes officer’s position, planned to become full-time when current Codes Officer Paul Mitnik retires at the end of 2019. No one has been hired yet; Heath said as of Jan. 23 no candidates had been interviewed.
  • The police and animal control budget is increased to cover expected higher costs for police dispatching if China has to change from the state’s Regional Communications Center to the Augusta Police Department and buy updated radios.
  • Heath recommends $6,000 for China’s Economic Development Committee. Asked by Budget Committee Secretary Jean Conway if the committee is active, the manager replied, “No, but it will be.”
  • Scott Pierz, who is involved in both the China Lake Association and the China Region Lakes Alliance, asked for $25,000 to make improvements to three fire roads identified in a 2016 survey as contributing run-off to China Lake. Budget committee member Wayne Chadwick asked Pierz to try to set up cost-sharing arrangements with the shorefront owners responsible for the roads.

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