South Berwick council cuts an additional $250,000 from already approved budget

Posted Aug. 05, 2011, at 12:26 p.m.

SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — The Town Council cut about $253,139 Tuesday night from the already approved fiscal year 2012 budget.

According to Town Manager Perry Ellsworth, the cuts were made up of 63 percent staff cuts and 37 percent of cuts from other areas.

Approximately $158,262 was cut from wages and benefits, including the elimination of a laborer position from the Public Works Department and transfer station, crossing guards and traffic control, a reduction in hours at the library and transfer station, and all recreation and senior programs will become self supporting, including wages and benefits. There will also be no nonunion raises for the third year in a row, according to a report from Ellsworth.

The effect of this cut, according to the report, will include that the transfer station will be closed on Fridays, the library will be closed on Mondays, no crossing or town square traffic officers and events like Kids Day, the Strawberry Festival and the Christmas Festival will not receive town monetary support.

Other cuts include $3,795 in social services contributions; $2,550 to the Conservation Commission, which is a 50 percent reduction of its entire budget including the elimination of dues, the coordinator position and community programs; $27,475 from police and dispatch, including a 50 percent reduction in cruiser and radio purchasing; and $53,000 from capital investments, including a reduction in the highway, office and fire equipment funds.

There were also miscellaneous cuts from the Town Council, town manager, recreation and library budgets.

Along with these cuts, Ellsworth made a commitment to further analyze town spending before the next budget review cycle in five months.

Ellsworth estimates it could take between five and seven years, depending on the economy, for the town to be able to fund all the positions, activities, organizations and requests again.

The cuts will take effect on Sept. 3. The council will be meeting in a workshop before its regularly scheduled council meeting next Tuesday, Aug. 9, to set the tax rate. The time of the workshop has not been determined, but the council meeting will begin at 6 p.m.

To see more of Foster’s Daily Democrat visit fosters.com.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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