Newport panel OKs bond, facilities study

Posted Jan. 22, 2009, at 11:17 p.m.

NEWPORT, Maine — Town officials reported Wednesday night that the town ended 2008 in solid financial shape.

“For the first time in Newport’s history, we ended the year with a fund balance of more than $1 million,” Town Manager James Ricker said. “In 1999, the fund balance was less than $387,000. I’m very proud of this community.”

Ricker said that at a special meeting this week, the town’s appointed budget committee approved taking a bit of cash from the fund for three purposes: $75,000 to offset taxation; $20,000 for a facilities engineering assessment of the public works garage and the police and fire department buildings; and $113,000 to pay off debt.

Ricker said that if the debt payments were approved at the annual town meeting in March, the town would have only $118,000 in total debt remaining. “That’s less debt than 10 years ago,’” he said.

The budget committee also approved seeking a bond package to construct a salt-sand shed. “We’ve been trying to do this for 30 years,” Ricker said. He said the construction bond would be about $150,000.

Newport’s proposed budget is $2,632,880, which includes the county tax and an increase in hydrant rental fees, and does not envision an increase in taxes.

The annual town meeting to vote on the budget and other issues is March 14. Voting for two selectmen’s seats will be held on March 13.