NEWPORT, Maine — Newport’s annual town budget meeting at the Newport Recreation Center couldn’t have gone more according to plan if it had been scripted.
In fact, if not for one of the 56 articles discussed and voted on being amended, it would have followed the town’s 2010 annual report and 2011 town meeting warrant script nearly word for word.
The only change was an increase in proposed funding at the suggestion of one of the 51 taxpayers in attendance.
“The recommendation by selectmen and the budget committee was for a $150,000 appropriation for road reconstruction, but a citizen proposed increasing that to $179,000 and it was passed,” said Newport Town Manager Jim Ricker.
According to Ricker, that means the town’s $2.3 million annual budget, which was $7,331 less this year than the previous year, will now be $21,600 more in the next one.
One of the centerpieces of the town’s budget is the paring of the recreation department budget almost in half, going from $100,000 to $51,631. That part of the budget was easily passed.
“We’ve had nothing but compliments, and I’m not trying to blow my own horn because this is all due to my staff and town employees,” Ricker said. “They’ve made this all work and that’s why we’re able to cut this budget in half.”
Ricker said it was basically a case of consolidation and efficiency.
“The town has taken over that account,” he explained. “ In the past, we simply gave money to another party to administrate our recreational program and they did their own fundraising to put on more programs than what the town previously offered.”
Ricker said the goal to maintain programs for “at-risk” youths is realized without sacrificing quality of service. The youth program has been run by the town for nine months. Previously, it was run by the Sebasticook Valley Community Center.
“What the board has done is prioritize their needs based on the major needs of the children in this community that they can’t get through school programs,” he said. “And a lot of that stuff is administrative savings where we have a lot of that staffing already in place.”