Thomaston proposes 4 percent budget increase

Fireworks Ordinance tabled
By Beth A. Birmingham | Apr 16, 2014
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Town Manager Valmore Blastow, Jr., center, addresses the Board of Selectmen and attendees regarding Thomaston's municipal budget April 14. The board accepted the proposed 4 percent increased budget. Also shown are Board Chairman Greg Hamlin and secretary Louise Demers.

Thomaston — The Board of Selectmen accepted the Budget Committee's recommendations for final approval of the 2014-2015 municipal budget at its April 14 meeting.

The Budget Committee had concluded its review of the budget April 8 after six meetings. The recommended $2,949,427 budget is an increase of 3.99 percent over last year.

A breakdown of the $113,212 increase in taxes includes $24,552 in wage increases, $20,047 in operational cost for the Cooperative Transfer Station, $34,792 in unclassified account of which $16,803 is for Workers' Compensation, and $14,000 is for health insurance.

The presented budget was reduced by $4,000 after deliberation and also supports from reserve and capital appropriation for the purchase of a three-quarter ton four-wheel-drive public works truck with a snowplow to replace the 2004 unit, and the purchase of a police cruiser including trade-in of a 2009 unit on the two-year replacement plan.

Another recommendation was to support the ambulance staffing at a cost of $17,500 from ambulance revenue, which would allow ambulance staff to be paid $24 for a 12-hour on-call shift.

The committee also supported the expenditure of $10,000 from the unassigned fund balance for the Fourth of July celebration.

"The town remains financially stable in these shifting economic times," wrote Town Manager Valmore Blastow Jr. as he presented his 23rd annual municipal budget recommendations to the Board of Selectmen and Budget Committee March 6.

Blastow noted the state revenue sharing continues to be a debated item.

"The current year is projected at $159,900 from the high of $483,231 in 2008 — which represents a reduction of $323,331," reported Blastow.

An increase in school and county budgets and a decrease in state revenue sharing increased the mil rate in 2012-2013 from $15.98 to $16.80 per $1,000 of value.

Fireworks Ordinance tabled

Town Attorney Paul Gibbons was on-hand at the April 14 meeting to discuss a proposed Fireworks Ordinance to be placed on the June 10 ballot.

After 40 minutes of debate on the difference between "fireworks" and "consumer fireworks," the selectmen voted unanimously to table the item until more definitive descriptions could be had.

The Office of the State Fire Marshall's website defines the terms as follows:

"'Consumer fireworks' includes only products that are tested and certified by a 3rd-party testing laboratory as conforming with United States Consumer Product Safety Commission standards."

"'Consumer fireworks' does not include the following products which are illegal to sell, use or possess in Maine :

A. Missile-type rockets, as defined by the State Fire Marshal by rule;
B. Helicopters and aerial spinners, as defined by the State Fire Marshal by rule; and
C. Sky rockets and bottle rockets. For purposes of this paragraph, 'sky rockets and bottle rockets' means cylindrical tubes containing not more than 20 grams of chemical composition, as defined by
the State Fire Marshal by rule, with a wooden stick attached for guidance and stability that rise into the air upon ignition and that may produce a burst of color or sound at or near the height of flight."

"'Fireworks' means any combustible or explosive composition or substance; any combination of such compositions or substances; or any other article which was prepared for the purpose of producing a visible or audible effect by combustion, explosion, deflagration or detonation, including blank cartridges or toy cannons in which explosives are used, the type of balloon which requires fire underneath to propel it, firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets, roman candles, bombs, rockets, wheels, colored fires, fountains, mines, serpents, or other fireworks of like construction; any fireworks containing any explosive substance or flammable compound; or any other device containing any explosive substance or flammable compound."

"The term 'fireworks' does not include 'consumer fireworks' or toy pistols, toy canes, toy guns or other devices in which paper caps or plastic caps containing 25/100 grains or less of explosive compound are used if they are constructed so that the hand can not come in contact with the cap when in place for the explosion, toy pistol paper caps or plastic caps that contain less than 20/100 grains of explosive mixture, sparklers that do not contain magnesium chlorates or perchlorates or signal, antique or replica cannons
if no projectile is fired."

The Fireworks Committee agreed to review the proposed ordinance Gibbons had prepared, but also questioned how surrounding towns do not have the issues that Thomaston does when it comes to this particular topic.

Mike Mayo, member of the Fireworks Committee, had collected fireworks ordinances from several towns and stated they are not much different than Thomaston's. However, he expressed the problem was due to the lack of enforcement of the ordinance.

It was recommended that someone from the State Fire Marshall's Office meet with the boards to explain, but nothing further was determined during the meeting. The item was tabled and will need to come back to the board for its April 28 meeting to be considered on the June 10 warrant.

The town's elections will be held June 10 to coordinate with the Regional School Unit 13 referendum voting. The annual town meeting is set for Wednesday, June 11.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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Staff Profile

Beth Birmingham
Staff Reporter
594-4401 ext. 125
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Beth rejoined Courier Publications' news staff in February 2013. She previously worked at The Courier-Gazette from 1981 to 1990.

Her coverage area includes Warren, Union, Friendship, Waldoboro, Washington, and Thomaston and RSU40.

Beth has a passion for photography, and a degree from the University of Maine at Augusta, in affiliation with the Maine Photographic Workshop in Rockport.

Aside from photography, Beth enjoys running and walks along the waterfront, as well as other outdoor activities. She has a daughter, Claire, who is 13.

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