GREENVILLE, Maine — Residents rejected an approved Cops Fast grant Monday, restored funds for curbside trash pickup and moved the due date for taxes into January 2012 during the annual town meeting.
Since the town budget was not finished until late Monday night, residents recessed and agreed to act on the Greenville School budget at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 9. That two-day delay was made to accommodate Superintendent Beth Lorigan who will be out of town until then. The later starting time is to allow more residents to attend and vote on the proposed budget and biomass plant conversion.
An attempt by town officials to improve the cash flow and avoid borrowing in anticipation of taxes by moving the due date for taxes to Nov. 2, 2011, was dashed. Residents voted instead to make taxes due Jan. 7, 2012, and to provide a 30-day discount of 1 percent. Tax bills will go out in September as usual.
With a January due date, town bookkeeper Cindy Hanscom said Monday the town is seven months into its fiscal year before tax bills are due. The town receives very little revenue during the summer but faces a large school payroll in September followed in October by a significant county tax bill of about $500,000.
“We’re crunched,” Hanscom said. “It’s tough on the town to meet its financial needs.”
Residents, however, noted that they too had to balance their finances and a change would negatively affect them.
Although the local police department was awarded a federal grant to fund the training, salary and benefits of a third full-time officer for three years, residents rejected it 42-32 because the town would have to fund a fourth year.
“I’m feeling really overpoliced in Greenville, especially for the nine months that there aren’t very many of us left here,” resident Janet Chasse said. “I think at some point we need to say no.” Since Greenville pays the most in county taxes, it should request more help from the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department, she said.
Despite the high county tax bill, Police Chief Jeff Pomerleau said the town receives little help from the sheriff’s department other than the services of specialists such as a firearms instructor, an accident reconstructionist or drug recognition expert. If Greenville had to train a staff person for those services, it would cost from $30,000 to $50,000, he noted. Since the sheriff’s department has budget woes, Pomerleau said his department often is asked by the sheriff’s department to respond to incidents in the surrounding Unorganized Territory.
Selectmen had removed funds for curbside trash pickup during budget cuts but residents voted 54-25 to restore the funds.
“I think it’s quality of life,” resident Mildred Kennedy Stirling said Monday of wanting curbside pickup.
Residents also added $21,194 for operational administrative fees in the solid waste account, voted to borrow up to $422,000 to close the town’s landfill, and lowered the $750,000 transfer station account to $533,803, which stripped funds for a recycling center. That amount will be borrowed over 10 years.
Town Manager Gary Lamb updated residents on the solar panel project installed last year. “It’s a disappointing situation because it hasn’t worked out well at all,” he said. Lamb said he totaled up the fuel bills from December through February over the last two winters and there has been no change, he noted. He said the town has not paid the final pending a resolution.