Waldoboro selectmen are scheduled to set the town meeting warrant when they meet Tuesday, April 26 at 6 p.m. at the town office.

At their last meeting, two weeks ago, a Waldoboro selectman asked his fellow board members if more money could have been trimmed from the municipal budget at the budget review sessions held in March by the Budget Committee and Board of Selectmen.

Selectman Craig Cooley said, “Could we have trimmed that budget for our taxpayers, our citizens, more? I’m looking for a yes or no and nothing more.”

Selectmen, however, didn’t have one-word answers.

Three selectmen said specifically that they wanted voters to decide what departments to fund and which to cut in the proposed $3.5 million 2011-2012 budget.

However, the draft of the town meeting warrant says selectmen “recommend” by a 5-0 vote more than 80 percent of the articles.

According to the draft warrant, the “Board of Selectmen recommends” on a 5-0 vote the expenditures for emergency medical services, office of the town clerk, fire department, office of the town manager, and planning and development.

There were split votes, but the warrant still says recommends, for recreation department (4-1), social service agencies (3-2), funding for Healthy Kids (3-2) and A.D. Gray building (4-1).

Voters have always had the ultimate say on budget articles. But with referendum voting, there is not the same opportunity to ask questions and amend articles like at tradition open town meeting. A public hearing will be held on the warrant articles a few weeks before the election. Voters will head into the booths with that information and also see the recommendations of the selectmen and Budget Committee.

Selectman Theodore Wooster said April 12, “I voted to allow the taxpayers at referendum to decide what they’re willing to fund and will also make my own decisions as to how I vote on individual issues. The variety of individuals in this town is such that I didn’t pretend to think that I could vote in a manner that represented all of them. I want to allow them to make their own votes.”

Board of Selectmen Chairman Rebecca Maxwell said voters can decide where to cut the budget.

“I feel we probably could have cut more than we did,” Maxwell said April 12. “Our worse thing is the school. It’s not the town. We get a heck of a lot from our taxes for EMS, police, our fire department, from the highway crew. I don’t think we needed to cut them. But I want to leave it up to the voters. It’s up to them to go to the polls and cut where they think it should be cut.”

Selectman Robert Butler said the Budget Committee and the Board of Selectmen did a “fair job with the budget.”

“I think it’s important to give the voters a chance to vote on what’s in the budget and if they don’t like what’s in there they’ll vote against it and we’ll go back to the drawing board and make some changes,” Butler said April 12.

Butler noted that selectmen and the Budget Committee endorsed a lowered budget for the town manager department, and a library budget that is down $1,000 from last year.

“I think the budget is fairly presented and I offer it to the voters for their approval or their disapproval,” Butler said. “And I can tell you I won’t be voting for every article on that warrant.”

Selectman Steve Cartwright noted that he joined Cooley in a 3-2 vote on the full police department budget as proposed by the town. Cartwright had suggested funding the department at the previous year’s level.

Cartwright said the school district’s budget is the lion’s share of local property taxes. “The real culprit is not the town budget and I think our money is well spent here,” Cartwright said April 12. “I don’t think there’s any waste or padding or fat in the budget.”

Selectman Cooley, who asked the straw poll question, has said before that times are tough, and the town needs to respond. “I’ve harped and harped and harped … the economy is not good,” Cooley said. “These are not good times. I feel that we could have trimmed that budget more.”

Election Day in Waldoboro is June 14.

In the June 2010 election, several articles failed at the polls, including funding for the office of the town manager, the assessing department, and planning and development.

Those three articles were passed with the full budget amounts at a special open town meeting two weeks later.

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