SANGERVILLE, Maine — Sangerville residents approved about $100,000 in municipal budget reductions Saturday during one of the longest town meetings in years.
The approximately 100 people who attended the meeting eliminated funds for the purchase of a backhoe and trailer; rejected an article that would have given selectmen the authority to buy equipment of up to $10,000 funded through the equipment account; cut road improvement funds by $70,000; and reduced the Fire Department truck reserve account by $10,000.
Residents approved the use of $40,000 to fund the removal of hazardous materials from the former Abbie Fowler School. Selectmen earlier this week awarded a contract to R.J. Enterprise of Brunswick to do the job at a cost of $37,300. Selectmen and volunteers have worked to reduce the overall project cost.
Overdrafts, especially in legal fees, were questioned Saturday, but Selectman Lance Burgess reminded residents that the town is still addressing personal issues that arose in previous years for which the current board wasn’t responsible.
The overdrafts were approved in a hand vote of 56-36. In another hand vote of 51-37, residents voted to set the interest rate on unpaid taxes at 7 percent. Last year, the rate was 4 percent. With more residents behind on their taxes this year, some residents felt the higher interest rate might cause some people to lose their homes. Others however, felt a lower interest rate would result in even more people delaying payment of taxes, leaving the town in a precarious situation.
Selectmen had proposed using $396,413 from surplus to reduce the tax commitment, but residents voted to reduce that by the total cuts made during the meeting.
Had all the funding articles been approved as proposed, Town Manager Michelle Dumoulin said
the mill rate would have been $16.10 per $1,000 property valuation. With the reductions, the town is looking at less than that now.
Residents elected Brent Randall as selectmen; Gayle Worden to the Hospital Administrative District 4 board; Rebecca Holt to the school board and Charles Cleaves to the Guilford-Sangerville Sanitary District board of trustees.