Owls Head accepts budget, fire department review
Owls Head — Owls Head residents approved a $1 million budget at the annual town meeting Aug. 26 and, after some debate, a review of the town's fire department by an outside consultant.
About 75 people attended the meeting to pass a 2013-2014 budget totaling $1,005,103, with nearly half of the tax impact reduced by revenue generated from excise taxes, revenue sharing and road assistance. The budget is up 7 percent from last year's approved figure of $937,252. The meeting lasted about one hour.
The increase is due in part to increased costs for salt, sand and snow removal, up about $15,000.
Although all articles passed, some residents questioned the rise in the budget, as well as the property tax revaluation.
"Everything seems to be going up, with no figure to compare it to. People are just voting for things without questioning it," said resident Bruce Woolett, who also expounded on the loss of buying power of average Maine families.
Selectmen said they would add the figures of the previous year's budget to the town report for residents to clearly compare the differences.
One resident said the increase in the budget is keeping up with inflation, and added that most of the tax burden comes from the school district and the county, which is not controlled by the town.
Residents also accepted spending nearly $5,000 to review of the town's volunteer fire department from an outside consultant. Selectman Richard Carver said the Camden man hired to review the department will take an unbiased and independent look at what may or may not need to be done to improve the efficiency and service of the department.
The decision to conduct the review came from a unanimous agreement of the department's seven member board of directors, including the three selectmen and four firemen. The decision comes in the wake of criticism of the department. Earlier this month, a notice of claim against the town was filed by Cecil Fogg, the owner of Frankie's Garage. His business was destroyed by fire last winter. Fogg contends more could have been done to stop the fire and may sue the town for $400,000.
Firefighter and EMT Eliot Scott said the $4,900 apportioned for the review is a waste of taxpayer money. Scott said the department is continually doing internal study, critiquing work done on calls and discussing how the department can improve.
"Everything is a learning process in EMS," he said.
"We have a good department and do a good job with the resources available," he said, adding the town recruited additional volunteers this year.
Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 119 or via email at email@example.com.
594-4401 ext. 118
Juliette primarily covers the cops and courts beat for The Courier-Gazette.
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