Holden elections, annual meeting next week

Posted June 08, 2011, at 5:30 p.m.

HOLDEN, Maine — The only thing on the annual town meeting warrant this year is the budget, which is increasing slightly but probably will not result in a change to the tax rate, Town Manager John Butts said Wednesday.

“There are no issues,” he said.

The proposed 2011 municipal budget is $2,257,777, which is around $136,000 more than last year’s $2.12 million budget.

“For the last two years in a row we’ve reduced our budget,” Butts said. “This year, it’s starting to catch up.”

No town services have been reduced, he said, adding that “we’ve actually added services. We now have a full-time firefighter on duty 24 hours a day.”

Butts said Holden is like other communities in Maine that have seen decreases in state revenues and excise taxes and increases to insurance rates, heating oil and fuel for vehicles.

In addition to the town budget, both the SAD 63 budget and the Penobscot County assessment have increased, Butts said.

The SAD 63 draft fiscal year 2011-12 budget is $8,995,295 and Holden’s share is $2,318,965, a $43,188 increase. County taxes increased from $293,867 to $309,395.

Last year, in an effort to rebuild the undesignated fund balance, town leaders decided not to use any of the funds to reduce the tax rate, which caused the property tax rate to increase from $12.32 to $13.70 per $1,000 valuation.

Butts said he expects the reserve account to be tapped this year but added, “that hasn’t been decided yet.” Town leaders will discuss whether to use the account and the specific amount to be moved during their June 20 meeting, the town manager said.

Even though it’s costing more to operate the town, “It doesn’t appear that we’ll have a mill rate increase,” Butts said.

The annual town meeting is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, at the Holden Elementary School.

Local elections are Tuesday, June 14, and five residents have submitted their names to fill two Town Council seats and one SAD 63 board seat.

Incumbent Councilors Robert Harvey and Ralph McLeod are running against resident Kerry Zimmerman. Incumbent SAD 63 board member Donald Varnum is running against another incumbent, Karen Clark, who served on the school board for Eddington and had to resign her post when she moved.

Ballot booths at the town hall will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on Tuesday.

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