Milo residents to vote on budget at March meeting

Posted Feb. 23, 2011, at 9:11 p.m.

MILO,  Maine — The price of everything a town needs for its operation has increased over the years, from fuel to utilities, yet Milo officials have managed over the past three years to reduce municipal expenses by about $500,000.

While cutting expenses isn’t easy, Milo Town Manager Jeff Gahagan credited town employees for trimming their budgets and the taxpayers for stepping up to pay their tax bills.

“I’m just really proud of the people in the community. As hard of a time everyone is having, you know, they really make a good solid effort to get their tax money into us so that we can keep operating,” Gahagan said Wednesday.

While Gahagan is quick to credit others, Selectman Jerry Brown said recently that Gahagan has done “one heck of a job” reducing expenses. “The town is in the best financial shape it’s been in in 15 to 20 years,” he noted.

This year’s proposed budget of $2,869,950, which includes county and school costs, is expected to be offset by $2,853,254 in revenues, leaving a small increase from last year. If residents approve, about $75,000 to $100,000 from surplus will be used to help lower taxes.

“Over the past few years, we’ve managed to get our surplus up to a reasonable level. Right now it’s a little over $500,000,” Gahagan said.

The goal of town officials, Gahagan said, is to reduce the property tax rate from $19.45 to under $19 per $1,000 property valuation. “We should be able to attain that easy enough this year,” he said.

Residents will vote on the proposed spending plan at the annual town meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. March 14 in the town hall.

“The budget committee that we have has been working real hard. We have a really good group that thinks outside the box,” Gahagan said. Robin Larson, the town treasurer, also has been working hard with town officials to keep the budget in line, he noted.

Through attrition, the town has lost the equivalent of four positions over the years, Gahagan said.

Although the town continues to rein in spending, county and school costs continue to rise, so Gahagan said the town will need to make some tough choices in the future.

“We’re at the point now where we’re really going to have to take a good hard look at what we offer for services and how we’re going to deal with these increases from the county and state level in the future,” Gahagan said.

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