2013 Town Meetings

March 4, 2013

Starks budget hike of 23 percent goes before voters Saturday

By Rachel Ohm rohm@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

STARKS -- Voters will consider a roughly 23 percent budget increase, which includes additional spending for road maintenance and other projects, when they gather for the annual Town Meeting on Saturday.

Selectmen are recommending a budget of $535,131 that is $99,364 more than the current budget of $435,767.00.

First Selectman Paul Frederic said overall tax rates shouldn't change too much because the town has saved money by switching school districts and has increased its revenues from a new transfer station being built by Central Maine Power.

Road maintenance will probably account for a majority of changes in the town budget, he said, with the most money going to a capital improvement fund for road maintenance and improvements to the community center.

"Proposals for those projects are not ready to bring in front of people yet but it would be decided at a future town meeting how that money is spent," said town clerk Jenn Hebert.

Selectmen are also asking for about $5,000.00 more than last year for summer road maintenance, Frederic said. There are some dirt and gravel roads that become muddy every spring that need repairs, he said.

The town also bought a new plow truck last year that it plans to pay for in installments of $40,000 over the next three or four years, said Frederic.

"Between equipment purchase, the capital improvement fund and a little increase in our summer roads budget, I would say roads are the number one reason we are asking for a little bit more this year," he said.

The town withdrew from Madison-based School Administrative District 59 in January 2012 and was able to save about $100,000 in school taxes in 2012, said Hebert.

The transfer station should also continue to contribute $90,000-$100,000 in annual revenue, said Frederic and should help offset losses the town might experience if Gov. Paul LePage's proposed cuts to municipal revenue sharing are approved.

The town could lose about $85,000 from its budget if cuts are made to revenue sharing, homestead tax exemptions and commercial excise taxes, said Frederic.

"That is a big chink of our operating costs but I think the direct impact is still speculative," he said. "I think we are in better shape than some towns our size."

The meeting will be at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Starks Community Center. Elections will be held on Friday from 12 to 8 p.m. also at the Starks Community Center. There are no contested races.

Rachel Ohm -- 612-2368
rohm@mainetoday.com

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