Goud fields parks and rec budget questions

Fri, 03/10/2023 - 10:00am

    Wiscasset budget committee member Tom Joyce said March 8, he understands everything costs more now, but he did not know if he could vote for the parks and recreation budget.

    In budget talks at the town office and carried on Zoom and YouTube, Joyce said Director Duane Goud is “clearly the best manager” that department has had. “This is good for the town. And you’re good for the town. But this is hard for me to vote for.” Depending on how revenues turn out, “this starts to look difficult to swallow as a taxpayer.”

    Goud said if less revenue comes in, he will spend less. “I’m also a taxpayer in this town, and I don’t like overspending budgets.”

    According to draft budget documents, other than planning and development’s proposed 176% increase that includes a possible director job, parks and recreation’s $233,135, or 23.85%, increase would be the biggest of any department. With a projected $185,000 increase in revenue, the increase to taxpayers would instead be about 10%, or about $50,000, Goud said.

    Joyce asked what the level of confidence is in the 40% revenue hike. “A miss there, compounds the losses that we’re looking at.”

    Goud called the number a forecast based on how revenue is tracking month to month compared to a year ago. Town Manager Dennis Simmons added, fee increases may also be considered.

    Simmons recalled paring Goud’s revenue projections last year and the year before that. “And I was wrong both times. So this year I’m going with Duane’s estimate ...”

    As with other departments, parks and recreation’s proposed $1.2 million budget includes higher labor, fuel and electricity costs, Simmons said in the documents and the meeting. He said a lot of the jobs at Wiscasset Community Center pay minimum wage, which he and maine.gov said is $13.80 an hour this year.

    Said Goud, “Everything has gone up for us. Supplies have gone up, doesn’t matter if it’s custodial or if it’s supplies for programming.” He said he tries to offer as many programs as he can. “If you want to boost your revenues, you have to spend more money,” he said.

    In other budget talks March 8, Simmons told the panels Wiscasset Emergency Medical Service’s (EMS) paramedic pay is proposed to go from $24 to $27 an hour to get Wiscasset nearer what other area agencies pay.

    Selectmen Terry Heller and Dusty Jones each recalled receiving excellent service in the past year. Heller said she is grateful and the team is fabulous. Director Erin Bean responded, the providers are all really good. “They don’t just show up so that they can collect a paycheck. They’re here because they honestly care about this community.”

    Wiscasset also serves Westport Island, Alna and Dresden, Simmons said. He said there is a slim chance of losing Dresden over a $20,000 hike, the new cost being $66,000.

    View the meeting on Wiscasset’s YouTube channel or at lctv.org