Baileyville Public Hearing On Up-coming Budget Cuts Calls For Numerous Taxpayers Input

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By Gwen Clark

 

A  Public Meeting was held at the Woodland Elementary School gym last Wednesday evening April 3rd with approximately fifty plus people in attendance.  Town Council members along with School Board members  explained the present situations concerning the Town of Baileyville  and the school system as well as answered numerous questions that were  proposed by community members.  Council Chairman Tim Call addressed the group  by beginning that  “The Mill had sold to its newest owners at less value than what it was previously worth, evaluation has dropped, and that they were not prepared to cut services  but were faced with the decision of either cutting services and keep the current mill rate or keep the services and raising the mill rate to about 26%. The Council has been considering  downsizing rather than cutting  services completely.”   

With a second re-audit on going presently the town has acquired a $300,000 short fall this year.  It is not a case of missing money but an under estimated dollar amount and an  over spent or improperly spent  budget.  The Council has been working relentlessly on ways to save and make money  to compensate the shortfall.  Some of the decisions that have been reached  by the Council is  choosing the Auditor themselves from now on; partially due to the lack of confidence by the Council in its last Audit; calling on the Department Heads to be accountable for their own budgets; selling tax acquired property to get it off of the Tax Books, the Town Treasurer will take on a larger role  so that there will be no discrepancies in numbers; and attempt to hold the Tax line as it stands for the citizens.  Better  and more economical use of legal services; application for Grants for the town; and the improvement of  Collections.  The co-operation with other communities for access of Public Works salt and sand  is already in use and added measures in heating of the town offices and building has also proven to provide a savings for the town.     

Other areas that will see some change include: Public Services has been cut one full time worker; the Police Department will consist of a Police Chief, a letter of intent has been sent to the new Chief; and two full time officers; back up and off hour coverage will be received from the Washington County Sheriffs Department, the Maine State Police, Border Patrol and mutual aid from Calais Police Department when necessary.  A bid has been submitted from Calais Ambulance Services for service in the upcoming  fiscal year as opposed to Down East Ambulance which would see a 10% increase from last years services.  The Waste Water Treatment Plant is considering contracting out for some of their services.   The Transfer Station has been holding its own pretty much even with the tonnage fees increase a possibility.  At least eleven outlying communities bring  garbage into the Transfer Station and are billed out each month and so Baileyville only pays out approximately  50% or $30,000.  The Recreation Department  could cut some programs but most are self-sufficient.  The Administrative services benefits are limited and cost for insurances are up.  Chairman Call also stated that plans for a new Town Manager are in place for mid April.

The School Committee has been meeting quite often as well to come up with a school budget.  It has been a challenge  for this committee to compensate for the loss of state subsidy and shifting it to the local community budget.  The number of students has declined  with approximately $125,000 less than last year to work with.  This has been a problem for numerous rural area schools in Washington County.  A major complication in this years budget is that the roof of the high school needs to be replaced.  The past two times it was worked upon it was replaced over the top of the original roof to save on the cost of locating a dump area for the old roof.  That does not seem to be an obstacle this time as Woodland Pulp and Paper has volunteered a dump site for the old roof; however, the expense for the installation of a new roof would be added to the budget.

It is hopeful that both budgets will be ready for voting on by the Town Meeting tentatively scheduled for April 29th.  Both the Council and School Committee invite community members to attend their meetings for both observation and comments that may aide in their budget preparations.  Much public comment was appreciated during this Public Meeting and they are open to any and all suggestions that will benefit the community in deciding this year’s budgets.