Workshop April 17

Thomaston selectmen accept recommended 7.16 percent budget increase

By Beth A. Birmingham | Apr 12, 2018
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham From left, Thomaston selectmen William Hahn and Peter Lammert and Town Manager Valmore Blastow look over the recommended municipal budget the board received from the Budget Committee April 9.

Thomaston — At its April 9 meeting, the Board of Selectmen accepted a recommended 2018-2019 municipal budget of $3,492,995 following a presentation by Budget Committee Chairman Henry Carey.

"We present to you a budget we feel is capable of dealing with the needs of the town," Carey told the board.

Included in the proposed budget, which is up about 7 percent from last year's $3,259,455, are increases of various percentages in every department except one as follows:

-- Administration, $438,898, an increase of $13,482, or 3.17 percent

-- Buildings, $91,000, up $7,100, or 7.85 percent

-- Police, $378,701, up $41,305, or 12.24 percent

-- Fire, $133,180, up $4,060, or 3.14 percent

-- Protection/Safety, $218,423, up $26,907, or 14.05 percent

-- Public Works, $520,788, up $21,638, or 4.33 percent

-- Ambulance, $205,859, up $84,909, or 70.02 percent

-- Sanitation, $250,000, up slightly at $2,000, or 0.81 percent

-- Assessors, $46,835, up $2,320, or 5.21 percent

-- General Assistance, $12,000, flat

-- Recreation and Leisure, $105,162, up $5,895, or 6.01 percent

-- Provider/Local Agency, $14,225, up $300, or 1.5 percent

-- Unclassified, $711,980, up $20,118, or 2.91 percent.

Individual categories totaling additional capital expenditures of $365,943, an increase of $29,400 over last year, that do not fall under a department, include:

-- Capital Projects, $184,000

-- Public Works Projects, $150,000

-- Miscellaneous Projects, $14,043

-- Shellfish, $4,500

-- Fire Equipment, $13,400.

"We also recommend expenditures as necessary from the Facility Reserve Account for the planning and operating of the new proposed Town Office complex {Lura Libby School}," Carey added.

The current reserve balance of $218,000 would cover the various costs of heating, lighting and maintenance of the building until the Municipal Facility Committee has decided what to do with it, according to Carey.

Town Manager Valmore Blastow said any of the $218,000 reserve remaining would be put toward the startup of the new Town Office.

He also said the Budget Committee recommends authorizing expenditures for a backhoe. The purchase price is $140,000, less a $20,000 trade-in and the remaining monies would come from Unexpended Winter Roads funds, FEMA funds, and Unassigned Funds and Reserves.

Blastow gave a briefing on the budgetary process, stating his original recommendation was an 8 percent budget increase, but through deliberations the Budget Committee was able to decrease it by nearly $26,0000, meaning the proposed budget represents a 7.16 percent increase over last year's $3,259,455.

"This is the only budget I've ever had in 25 years that was to this scale," Blastow said. "Part of what's driving that -- so it's clear to the community -- is an $84,000 increase to just structure a temporary gap for the ambulance service."

For all calls that Thomaston ambulance does not respond to, Rockland does. Blastow said that cost used to be $250 per call, then it went to $500, and as of January it has been increased to $800.

He explained he is working on a survey for all ambulance personnel to figure out how to effectively get the job done.

"All of this will be deliberated by the public," he said, adding that the town will decide whether it wants to go private or use a different public agency and disband the ambulance service or even go full-time, which he said has been on the table for discussion as well.

"But you're looking at numbers like $600,000 for that," he said.

In his recommendation letter to the Budget Committee and Board of Selectmen in March, Blastow said increases in the Police Department stem from the "insistence of citizens to have additional traffic observation."

"The budget proposed this year has increases that will require a tremendous effort on the part of the Budget Committee and ultimately the Board of Selectpersons to resolve," he said.

The Budget Committee will hold a meeting Tuesday, April 17, at 6 p.m. at the Thomaston Public Library to review the recommended expenditures (Facility Reserve Account and backhoe purchase) as noted above.

Immediately following that meeting will be a combined workshop with the Board of Selectmen.

Blastow said once the committees determine to proceed, ultimately the budget will be voted on for recommendation and set for the June town meeting.

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

Comments (2)
Posted by: Dale Hayward | Apr 25, 2018 23:36

Rockland is the best. We train, supply, and armour our people the best we need to be reimbursed whenever possible. The portion of our taxes that pays toward their services is without a question the best deal, and you live to tell about it, at least I did. That makes me some happy. Thanks folks.



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Apr 19, 2018 15:13

Emergency services are expensive due to many factors. People have to decide between suffering or going into debt, however it is nice to have that option. Rockland emergency personnel are excellent and I don't mind paying while hoping I don't have to call them.



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