DEXTER, Maine — Town officials are working feverishly to reduce the proposed spending plan before it is presented next month to the Town Council for adoption.
In highlighting the budget Thursday, Town Manager Dave Pearson said the town will receive about $290,000 less in revenues, and will pay $19,578 more in county taxes and $30,873 less in school costs.
To reduce the budget, Pearson said $145,042 in cuts have been made to some services including reducing the hours of the assessor, deferring some purchases such as a police cruiser, and renegotiating a new fuel contract. About $80,000 more in reductions is needed to keep the current mill rate, he said.
If further reductions can’t be found, the mill rate is expected to increase from $14.50 to $15 per $1,000 property valuation. The fact the town’s valuation is $1.8 million less than last year also puts pressure on the tax rate, Pearson said. The budget committee is expected to finish the spending plan later this week.
Considering the town’s economic situation, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 93 AFL-CIO ratified a three-year contract that allows for no cost-of-living increase the first year and a 3 percent cost-of-living increase in each of the second and third years of the contract. The Town Council ratified the contract on Thursday.
“I think it’s a pretty good deal for all parties,” Pearson told the council. Other than adjustments for two police officers and two clerks who are earning below the state average, no other town employees will receive an increase, including department heads, he said.
Hoping to generate more revenues, town officials plan to reopen the campground at Lake Wassookeag next month and rent the nine sites by the night. The council had closed the campground in earlier years.
The council is moving ahead with airport improvements funded through the stimulus program. Thibodeau Inc. of Levant was awarded the contract to do the runway extension project. Several companies submitted bids, but Thibodeau’s was the lowest at $2,318,398.
A public hearing will be held next month to begin the process of declaring a building at 75 Main St. dangerous. The new owners of the burned property had planned to restore the building and had entered into a consent decree with the town to have the property cleaned up by April 30. Town officials and neighbors say the progress has not been satisfactory.