Waldoboro Town Manager Bill Post told selectmen at their Jan. 12 meeting that potential cuts to municipal revenue sharing from the state will make coming up with a budget that much more difficult. Still, Post said his goal is to help craft a balanced budget without raising property taxes.

“We’re trying to come in with a flat-funded budget,” Post said. “That’s the goal.”

Post and selectmen Clint Collamore, Becky Maxwell, Ted Wooster and Bob Butler discussed cuts to revenue sharing from the state sales tax and agreed to the budget calendar at their regular meeting at the town office. They also heard from town employees who would be affected by the budget.

Gov. John Baldacci has submitted a supplemental appropriations bill to bridge a $400 million gap in state finances. Last year, the state took $44 million from revenue sharing to balance the budget.

“He’s come knocking at our door again,” Post said.

This year, the governor has proposed to take $27 million by cutting $12 million from the current year and $15 million next year from revenue sharing.

For Waldoboro, this means a potential $80,000 in lost revenue sharing money from its budget. Post said it is frustrating because the town is trying to produce a flat-funded budget and is only asking for a level amount of revenue sharing money from the state.

“To have additional cuts on top of that hurts us,” Post said.

Post said he has asked for freezes on just about everything, from office supplies to overtime. Town departments are already frugal, Post said, but they are coming up with their own recommendations to save money. According to the budget calendar, department budget requests are due Jan. 29. The town manager will review the budget requests with department heads from Feb. 1 to March 1, according to the budget calendar.

Post said he does not want to cut employees or office hours, or require furlough days. Already, there is no plan for a cost of living allowance increase.

“There is no more give for us,” Post said.

Waldoboro’s share of the school district budget will also factor into the town budget.

Health insurance has already been discussed because it too will affect the final budget.

At their Dec. 8 meeting, the last time they convened, selectmen discussed employee contributions to the town’s health insurance expenses but did not change any policy. At the Jan. 12 meeting, selectmen had a reality check as a dozen members of the Public Works Department joined them at the table to discuss employee compensation.

“I don’t blame anyone for looking for cuts but you have to look at the big picture,” said John Daigle, director of public works. “We’re not here to ask for more money but we don’t want to go backward.”

Butler, a selectman, said he was the one to raise the issue of requiring an employee contribution to health insurance. He said he still feels in principle that individuals must be responsible for their own health and somewhat responsible for their health insurance. Butler said he was elected to ask questions such as this; $11,000, the potential savings from requiring some employee contributions to health insurance, is significant to the town and adds up to bigger savings over the years. Everything is on the table at budget time, Butler said.

Daigle said he respected Butler’s push to find savings because that’s what the selectman does with the school board. Daigle was at the meeting to push back for his crew.

“These guys are dedicated to the public,” Daigle said.

The public works and solid waste crew went around the table to introduce themselves to anyone who was watching the meeting on Lincoln County TV. Seven winters, 30 years, 22.5 years, the department members said as they described their service.

The meeting put human faces on what promises to be a tough budget process. The municipal budget is scheduled to be submitted to selectmen and the budget committee on March 8. Budget review meetings are scheduled for March 16, 18, 23 and 25. Selectmen are expected to finalize the budget and town meeting warrant on April 13. A public hearing will be held May 25. Voters will go to the polls on June 8 to vote on the budget and to elect candidates for public offices.