May 22, 2018
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Stonington proposes lean budget for town meeting

By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff

STONINGTON, Maine — Voters will have a bare-bones budget to consider next week at the annual town meeting.

According to Town Manager Kathleen Billings-Pezaris, the selectmen are anticipating a decrease in revenues in the coming year and have tried to keep the budget in line with those decreases.

The polls will be open for municipal elections from 8 a.m. to noon Monday, March 2, at the town office. The town meeting will begin at 3 p.m. on the second floor of the town office.

The town already has seen a drop in income from motor vehicle excise taxes, and the state has indicated there will be a drop in state revenue sharing. Fewer construction projects are being undertaken because of the economy, she said, and so revenues from building permits are down as well

“People just aren’t buying cars the way they usually do,” she said. “We’ve tried to trim back on the budget to reflect that loss of revenues. A lot of people are having a tough time out there and they don’t really want to see an increase in taxes.”

Billings-Pezaris said the selectmen tried to achieve a budget that resulted in no tax increase, but much will depend on what happens with the community school district budget. The district budget goes to voters at an annual district meeting later in the year.

The proposed budget is $1,119,359.80, a decrease of almost $70,000 from the 2008 municipal budget.

“We tried to shave a little bit from everywhere,” she said.

The town road tarring account took the biggest hit and accounts for much of the decrease in the budget. The selectmen cut $50,000 from the road account and plan to do no major tarring this year.

“Our roads are in pretty good shape overall,” Billings-Pezaris said. “We’ll concentrate on ditching, culvert replacement, tree cutting and generally improving the drainage on the roads.”

The Fire Department has proposed an increase in the firefighters’ stipend, which has not changed in several years, according to Billings-Pezaris, but will forgo adding funds to the firetruck reserve account this year to offset that increase. The selectmen also have proposed cutting back police coverage from four days to three days a week.

Most of the warrant articles deal with the proposed budget, Billings-Pezaris said, and there are no other major issues to be decided.

In elections, incumbents Evelyn Duncan and Christopher Betts are the only candidates for the two seats on the Board of Selectmen. Incumbent Patricia Brierley is the only candidate for a three-year in-district seat on the Sanitary District board and Ronald M. Eaton is seeking a one-year at-large seat on that board. There is no candidate for the one-year in-district opening.

There are three candidates for two three-year seats on the community school district committee: incumbent Michael Cormier, Amanda Larrabee and Andrew Vaughn. Incumbents Don Sargent and Skip Greenlaw are the only candidates for two two-year openings on the board.

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