Town Manager Linda-Jean Briggs proposed cutting her pay raise as a way to move the budget forward during the July 14 selectmen's meeting.

A public hearing on the new budget for the Office of the Town Manager will be held at 6 p.m. Aug. 4 and a special referendum town meeting will take place Aug. 18, both at the Town Office.

The Office of the Town Manager budget item failed in the June 9 referendum by a vote of 424 to 286. On June 29, the board held a workshop on the ramifications of not being able to operate the Town Office without the needed funds.

"I respectfully request that you remove the 3 percent, as well as the adjustment that was made to the resulting benefits," said Briggs. The adjustments decrease the budget for the Office of Town Manager by just over $2,000.

"I'm offering this as a way for this government to move forward," said Briggs.

The adjustments do not affect the other staff who fall within the Office of the Town Manager, nor do they have any bearing on the 3 percent cost of living raise already approved for other full-time employees.

Selectman Ron Miller suggested another option could be to take the 3 percent down to 1 percent for all employees, to which Briggs said, "I'm not sure that's a can of worms you want to open up."

She said when she looked at the totals last year, the cost of living raise was approximately $25,000, including every employee not represented by a union. "In a $5 million budget, that's fairly insignificant," she added.

The board voted 4 to 0 to accept the new budget of $134,707 for the Office of the Town Manager.

The Budget Committee was then called to order and Bill Blodgett was nominated as chairman. Prior to the vote, member Valdemar Skov commented, "I think it is very generous of L.J. to propose this. I don't think it's justified, but I think it may be a way to move things forward and hopefully get an approved budget."

The Budget Committee approved the budget by a 6 to 1 margin, with two members absent.

The failed town manager budget of $136,794 had represented an increase of $5,800 over last year and included the 3 percent cost of living raise for the town manager and two other employees.

That budget had been recommended by both the Budget Committee (by a vote of 5-3-1) and the Board of Selectmen (split 3-2).

Unless a new budget for the Office of the Town Manager is approved, it will only have enough funds to operate until Oct. 1.

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