No planner or new police officer for Wiscasset

Wed, 06/24/2020 - 8:45am

The Wiscasset select board will meet Thursday, June 25 to finalize its proposed 2020-2021 budget of $5.85 million. The meeting will be live-streamed from the municipal building hearing room on YouTube beginning at 5 p.m.

In an hour-long budget workshop Tuesday night, June 23, the board stuck with the $5,857,359 budget Town Manager John O’Connell submitted. The proposed budget is 2% higher that last year’s budget.

The board held off adding a police officer O’Connell estimated would have put the police budget over a half million dollars. The board also rejected a proposal to hire a town planner for $98,021. Together, the two jobs would add $144,016 to the budget, O’Connell said. The board was considering funding both from capital reserve.

Selectmen Jeff Slack and Kim Andersson did not support adding either job. Chairman Judy Colby questioned the wisdom of paying for both jobs with capital reserve monies. “What happens next year? I don’t think this is the year to add these.”

Selectman Katharine Martin-Savage supported adding both jobs. Selectman Ben Rines Jr. said he would support adding a full-time police officer. Colby doubted voters would support adding either job. “A lot of people are stretched right to the limit,” she commented. She said she hoped to keep property taxes flat.

It was a workshop so no vote was taken. Before adjourning, Colby repeated her recommendation to earmark $1.2 million in reserve monies to fund a list of capital expenditures that include buying an ambulance, a police cruiser, a used fire truck and a public works truck, plus several infrastructure repairs.

Colby added, the balance, about $180,000, could be applied to the tax commitment, eliminating the board’s having to rely on the fund balance.

At the close of the stock market May 31, the town’s capital reserve funds stood at $11.64 million.