After a March 9 budget workshop, Vassalboro select board members had their recommendations for 2023-24 municipal expenditures ready to go to the budget committee for its members’ review and recommendations.
The budget committee’s 2023 organizational meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Thursday, March 16, following a 6 p.m. select board meeting.
The proposed budget includes a 6.5 percent cost of living increase for town employees, plus a two percent step increase for all except those who have already reached the maximum number of years the step-increase scale covers.
Other proposed changes in the administration budget, besides salaries, include Town Manager Aaron Miller’s proposal to buy a new copier to replace a 12-year-old one, at an estimated cost of $10,000, and select board members’ recommendation to raise their annual stipends from $1,100 apiece to $2,500 apiece.
The recommended amount for select board members is based on compensation in comparable Maine towns and is intended to recognize the amount of time the job takes and to encourage more people to run for the board.
Board members approved additional time for police chief Mark Brown; Miller said the request is a response to residents’ desire for more coverage.
The total proposed public safety budget is up more than $80,000, mostly because Delta Ambulance has asked for $66,285 to continue serving Vassalboro residents.
Select board members also approved increasing program director Karen Hatch’s time from 20 to 30 hours a week, and her pay commensurately. Board chairman Barbara Redmond was hesitant, because the position is less than a year old; select board member Frederick “Rick” Denico, Jr., and budget committee member Michael Poulin said Hatch is doing a lot and getting good participation.
Hatch’s summary of some of her initial activities appeared in the Jan. 19 issue of The Town Line, on page 2.
Miller suggested a survey asking resident how they like the program and what additional activities they recommend.
Board members supported increasing funding for the China Region Lakes Alliance and, at Redmond’s suggestion, adding up to $5,000 for the Webber Pond Association. Both proposed appropriations have the goal of helping protect water quality. Miller is to draft an article specifying that the $5,000 town donation is to improve water level management at the outlet dam; he suggested the money be appropriated from proceeds from the annual alewife harvest, rather than from taxes.
Proposals for reserve funds, for example for future equipment purchases, were reviewed and amended.
The budget still contains unknowns, including major items like the cost of road-paving materials; and Miller has not yet estimated 2023-24 revenues. The school board has barely started review of its 2023-24 budget (See related story here).
Nomination papers available
Nomination papers for Vassalboro local elective offices are available at the town office. Positions to be filled this year are one seat on the select board (Barbara Redmond, whose term ends, has repeatedly said she does not plan to run again) and two seats on the school board (Erin Libby Loiko’s and Zachary Smith’s terms end this year).
Signed nomination papers must be returned to the town office by noon, Friday, April 14, for candidates’ names to be on the June 13 ballot.
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