SANGERVILLE, Maine — Budgeting in this town will continue to be on a calendar year rather than a July 1-June 30 fiscal year.
Residents at the annual town meeting in March voted 65-30 to move the town from a calendar year to a July 1-June 30 fiscal year, but selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday to keep the status quo.
Town Manager Michelle Dumoulin said the article voted on in March was unnecessary since selectmen have the exclusive right to determine the town’s fiscal year.
Former Selectman Len Nilson, who was instrumental in taking the matter to voters last March, said Tuesday that the article had been designed to determine the interest of such a change.
“I’m not a total advocate of it,” he said, adding that he wasn’t sure some voters were aware of the ramifications of the proposed change.
The change would have allowed the town to rely more on accurate figures from SAD 4 and the state during budget deliberations, rather than relying on assumptions or estimates, Nilson said.
Budgeting early in the year when the school budget and state revenues are unknown is a little like playing poker and viewing only three of seven cards and betting on those three cards, Nilson said.
Selectman Harold Leland said he initially thought it would be a good idea to change the year for better budget preparations. He said, however, that the Legislature dragged its process out so long earlier this year that towns still didn’t get the revenue information in a timely fashion. Had the Legislature adjourned April 30, that would have been different, Leland said.
“This past year has demonstrated we aren’t going to gain anything” by changing the fiscal year, he said.
Had the board voted for the change, residents likely would have received a six-month tax bill around Christmas 2011 and a 12-month tax bill about six months later. It also would have required two budgets and a second audit.
Selectman Lance Burgess said town officials could not rescind the town meeting vote but could decide whether to proceed with the change. He then made the motion to keep the town on a calendar fiscal year, remarking that the town had done “quite well” over the years operating on that basis with an annual town meeting in March. In addition, he said the town has a healthy reserve to cover any unexpected increases.
“I’m happy doing what we’ve been doing,” Burgess said. “I just don’t see the advantage of changing it.”