MEDWAY, Maine — Local taxes won’t rise, but residents will get a shorter summer recreation season — and the town a new plow truck — if voters OK a proposed $3.7 million town budget next month.
David Dickey, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, and town Administrative Assistant Kathy Lee expressed pride in the work selectmen and town department heads have done since January to deliver no tax increase for the second straight year to this small northern Penobscot County town, which has about 1,500 people and sits along the Penobscot River and Interstate 95.
And they are not finished.
“We still have to see where state revenues come in and where we will have our surplus, but we could very well drop taxes because of the job we were able to do,” Dickey said Friday.
“Our goal is to get it [the mill rate] below 20 without cutting services. We are going to work hard for it. The school board and Board of Selectmen are working together like never before,” he added.
Medway’s proposed 24.5 mill rate mirrors those set in other Katahdin region towns in 2008-09. Millinocket’s mill rate is 24.2, or $24.20 per $1,000 of valuation. Mark Scally, chairman of the East Millinocket Board of Selectmen, said he believed his town’s mill rate is 21.1.
If voters approve it, Medway’s combined town and school budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 will increase just $560.17, despite a proposed education budget of $2.57 million, which would represent an increase of $17,042 over this year’s school budget, Lee said.
“The school board did a good job,” Lee said. “They made some cuts and they worked hard on this.”
The school budget, Lee said, would have increased substantially had the Maine Education Department failed to receive increased outside aid.
The town’s proposed municipal budget, $981,534, drops from the $1.1 million budget set for the current year. Selectmen cut two weeks from the recreation season, reducing the road-paving budget from $90,000 to $58,000 without eliminating paving projects, and limiting expenditures, among other things, Lee said.
The town will pave small sections of Nicatou Road and Tyler Street, all of Day Road and half of Old Main Road this year.
Selectmen also added or maintained funding for several essential services, Dickey said. That includes setting $15,000 in an economic development contingency fund and restoring a $15,000 contribution to the school system’s bus replacement program. Cut last year, the annual contribution will help prevent a tax increase caused by a new bus purchase.
The plow truck will cost no more than $34,000, and about $12,000 of that will come from a Public Works reserve account, Lee said. Another $3,000 will buy a storage building for the Fire Department and $1,700 will upgrade electrical services at the Roy Powers Recreational Area off Route 157.
Dickey was pleased that the town’s Public Works Department supervisor, Greg Hale, produced a flat budget for the second year in overseeing the town highway, transfer station and grounds maintenance crews — with help from an unused $10,000 rolled over from the town’s 2008-09 road sand account.
Town officials anticipate, and have built into the proposed budget, a loss of $130,000 in state excise tax revenues next year. If that happens, Lee said, more and deeper cutting into next year’s budget will be difficult.
“All year long we are doing the same thing,” she said. “We are searching for money, trying to anticipate town savings, but the bottom line is, we can’t keep cutting without cutting more services.”
The town meeting will be at 6 p.m. June 10 at Medway Middle School. The annual town elections will occur June 9 at the Medway fire station, according to the town’s Web site, medwaymaine.org.