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Thomaston budget heads to the board

By Christine Simmonds | Apr 06, 2021
Photo by: Christine Simmonds Thomaston municipal building

Thomaston — The Thomaston budget committee has approved the proposed 2021-2022 town budget of $3,974,155. The proposal will next go to the select board for approval, and then to the voters.

Town Manager Kara George said this municipal budget is an increase of 4.8% from the 2020-2021 budget.

In her introduction to the initial budget she proposed to the committee, which had an increase of 5%, George said many increases were out of the control of the town. George added she had reduced items in the budget where she was able.

In addition to the budget, the select board will also be deciding on two potential warrant items to go before voters.

One warrant item is the hiring of a new police officer.

The budget committee supported this as a separate warrant item at George’s recommendation. This will allow the police budget to pass even if the additional officer does not pass.

Without the additional officer, the proposed police budget is $585,688. This is an increase of $3,535 from last year.

Thomaston Police Chief Tim Hoppe asked for the additional staff to deal with the economic growth of the town as well as the challenges provided by the presence of Walmart.

A 2012 economic study performed before Walmart moved to Thomaston states the town would need to increase the police budget to address the needs of the store as well as the town.

The Thomaston police force has not increased since before the store moved to town, however.

A second proposed warrant item is the funding for the Thomaston Green Task Force and an extension of Economic Development Specialist Brian Doyle’s contract.

The recommended budget for the task force is $5,000. Much of this is to pay for a moderator to facilitate a town-wide discussion on what the future of the space will be.

Some Thomaston residents have voiced opposition to the formation of the task force at previous board meetings. These residents say the town already spent time and money determining how to develop the Green when the town first purchased the land.

Other residents have said those decisions were made too long ago, and new residents have since moved in with new ideas for the space.

The same warrant item also extends Doyle’s contract with the town to the end of June 2020.

The current contract expires Dec. 31. This extension would instead allow Doyle’s contract to end at the next fiscal year for the town. It is an additional six months at a cost of $35,335.

George said this cost is half of Doyle’s contract with an additional $2,835 for six months of expenses.

This proposed warrant item will allow the town to pay for the task force and the extension of Doyle’s contract from special funds provided by Dragon Cement that were earmarked for economic development.

Passing the warrant item will not affect the municipal budget, and the funding will not affect any taxes.

The town will hold two public hearings on the warrant items, which include the budget, May 5 and May 13.

The annual town meeting vote will be held June 8, and will be held by paper ballot.

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