DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A proposed $4.3 million municipal spending plan that includes $285,000 for road improvements and $235,000 for a new grader will advance to a municipal budget referendum set for June 14.
Residents gathered Saturday in the town gymnasium to review and approve the articles and funding levels for municipal operations that will be included in the referendum. A final public hearing on the proposed expenditures will be held at 6:30 p.m. May 23, in the municipal building.
While residents breezed through most of the warrant articles for the June presentation, a $7,000 proposal for social service agencies prompted discussion.
Town Manager Jack Clukey said the town has not funded social service agencies for a number of years, but in earlier years had funded the local food cupboard, Womancare, Penquis CAP, Community Health and Counseling Center, Eastern Area on Aging, United Cerebral Palsy, American Red Cross and Pine Tree Hospice.
This year, however, the thought was that without those donations, the agencies could not call the town a contributor. The budget committee proposed $700, but selectmen felt that amount was “too modest” and recommended $7,000 to be shared among the agencies.
Some concern was expressed about how the money would be divided and to what agencies. Selectmen want to meet with agency representatives to determine which agencies serve local residents the most and divide up the money on that basis, although no formula has yet been devised.
Resident Patricia Johnson said she’d rather know now what agencies would receive the funds. She said she gives independently to social service agencies and would rather see her tax dollars given to those agencies that do not receive state and federal funds.
Resident Jane Stitham, executive director of Pine Tree Hospice, thanked residents for their past support. “In these times, we are being used more and more,” she said of the volunteer organization that does not charge for its services. Stitham said the hospice’s services have increased by 76 percent this year.
An attempt to amend the funding article to donate $1,000 each to the seven social service agencies failed. Selectmen said some of the seven organizations have neither made proposals to the town nor asked for funds.
Regarding a $32,800 budget for the Piscataquis Regional YMCA, residents were told they would be surveyed later this year to find out their expectations regarding recreational programs.
Toward that end, resident Hilda Mulherin said the town shouldn’t give funds to any organization or department without knowing exactly what the town receives for benefits.
The $4.3 million appropriations are expected to be offset by $2 million in revenues. Clukey said the town’s surplus account as of June 30 is expected to be just under $750,000 and a significant amount of that will be used to offset the tax commitment and for the grader purchase. With those offsets, residents will need to raise $2.28 million through property taxes to fund municipal government.