Pittsfield to county: No tax hike

Posted Jan. 05, 2010, at 11:59 p.m.

PITTSFIELD, Maine — The Town Council on Tuesday unanimously approved sending a resolution to Somerset County commissioners requesting that they develop a county spending plan that includes no tax increase.

Town Manager Kathryn Ruth said at least three other municipalities in the county, Skowhegan, Canaan and Norridgewock, were preparing similar resolutions. The Somerset County commissioners meet this afternoon.

There was no opposition to the measure in Pittsfield, with the discussion centering on how aggressively to word the resolution.

“I think we should be more direct and to the point to make sure they understand,” said Councilor Christopher Carr during a discussion about whether to use the verb “implore” or something else. “I think ‘demand’ is good.”

Councilor Timothy Nichols, who suggested “requests,” which ended up being endorsed by the other councilors, said he liked the resolution because it spelled out the pains Pittsfield went through to enact a 2010 municipal budget with a 2 percent decrease.

“Everyone else is doing the same thing,” said Nichols, referring to surrounding municipalities. “This is what the taxpayers expect in this economic climate.”

In addition to the county budget, Pittsfield awaits the spending plan for public schools before it knows what the impact will be on the tax rate. The county and municipal proposals are due in the coming months.

In an unrelated item, the council opted to make no changes in its leadership, re-electing Nichols as mayor and Councilor Gary Jordan Jr. as deputy mayor. The council also voted in a slew of committee appointments on everything from the finance panel to the police labor negotiating committee.

In other ceremonial business, the council thanked outgoing Councilor Wayne Fotter for his six years of service to the council. Fotter stepped down, partly because of the fact he is legally blind, he said in an interview.

“Wayne has worked tirelessly and diligently,” said Nichols, who presented Fotter with a plaque. The rest of the councilors followed Nichols’ lead, congratulating Fotter on his service to the town.

Fotter was replaced in last November’s election by Robert Stackhouse. Nichols and Councilor Louise Baker also were re-elected in uncontested races for three-year terms.

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