Waldoboro sends budget to voters

Dedicates annual town report
By Beth A. Birmingham | Jun 03, 2014
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Select Board Chairman Craig Cooley, right, presents a copy of Waldoboro's Annual Town Report to Abden Simmons, chairman of the Shellfish Conservation Committee.

Waldoboro — Following a public hearing May 29, the Waldoboro Board of Selectmen approved the warrant articles for referendum voting Tuesday, June 10.

Residents will be voting on a 4.34 percent in the 2014-2015 municipal budget.

Total non-property tax revenues are projected to decrease by approximately $1,094 or .05 percent. Highlights noted were:

— Taxes to increase by $28,770 or 3.75 percent. Excise taxes are expected to increase by $26,900 or 3.84 percent

— $5,000 from the Shellfish Conservation Reserve to fund a second part-time warden position

— Using $35,000 to offset the tax rate

The town's general fund unassigned fund balance at June 30, 2013 was $708,694 — an increase of $322,259 from the previous year.

The total proposed expenditures are budgeted at $3,858,332, an increase of $161,084 or 4.34 percent. General highlights are:

— Salaries and wages increased with an average increase for regular employees budgeted at 3 percent, which is consistent with the wage increase in the negotiated collective bargaining agreement with police and public works employees.

— All employees who subscribe to dependent coverage under the town-sponsored health insurance plan are required to pay 15 percent of the cost of the premium.

— In addition, the town-sponsored health insurance continues use of a high deductible plan, complimented with a Health Reimbursement Account which is funded at $25,000.

— The town contribution rates to the employee retirement plan, Maine Public Employees Retirement System, increased from 10.5 percent to 11 percent for police officers and from 6.5 percent to 7.8 percent for all other eligible employees. This resulted in an approximate $3,309 increase to the budget.

Contributions to various capital reserve accounts increased by $87,609 from last year, with Waldoboro's share increased by $99,722.

Also noted was the transfer station budget. The contributions from the three partner towns of Waldoboro, Friendship and Cushing show a projected increase due to a proposed decrease in other revenues, including fund balance. Waldoboro's increase will be $19,377 or 7.83 percent..

Several other variables had an effect on the final budget  — most significantly the town's share of Regional School Unit 40's assessment amount and the Lincoln County tax assessment.

Also at the May 29 meeting, Town Manager Linda-Jean Briggs announced she will re-advertise for the Code Enforcement Officer position, a void left from the departure of Willa Antczak. Briggs said the town is also seeking a new school resource officer. That individual will also fill in at the police department when other officers take vacation this summer.

Town report dedicated

Chairman Craig Cooley read a letter from resident Steve Cartwright as part of the dedication of the Annual Town Report to the Shellfish Conservation Committee.

Cartwright acknowledged the Waldoboro Shellfish Committee for its teamwork over the past several years in helping to identify and correct sources of pollution in the Medomak River.

"The team approach isn't just about trouble-shooting. It's also about educating landowners and business people on how best to protect this vital resource for our clammers and the entire community," Cartwright wrote.

He noted two citizens in particular that deserve to be recognized for their years of work on behalf of he river — longtime Shellfish Committee Chairman Abden Simmons and co-chairman and fellow clammer Glen Melvin.

"We are grateful to all the steadfast volunteers who serve on the Shellfish Committee, and others who support it. Their work continues to improve the quality and productivity of our beautiful and bountiful Medomak River," wrote Cartwright.

Following a round of applause, Simmons addressed the board to request the hiring of an environmental consultant to assist in determining the source of pollution between the Depot and Main Street bridges.

"It could be expensive, but well worth it," said Simmons in explaining how the Shellfish Committee has conducted thousands of tests and have not found the source.

Presentation two weeks ago on demonstrating how successful the Department of Environmental Protection has been with special dogs that can sniff out pollution, as there has been no visible problem found.

"The dogs have the capability of distinguishing between human waste and animal waste," said Simmons.

"We've been warned if we don't do something now, we could lose the east and west side for next year," said Simmons.

Simmons said they have narrowed down the area to be examined, and hope to be able to conduct the research within one day. He stressed that they want to conduct it before school is out to rule out the school's sanitation as a source of the matter.

Dates are set for Monday, June 9 and Tuesday, June 10 for the testing to be conducted, according to Briggs.

They will be looking at all the storm drains with two dogs - that can pinpoint exactly what direction the source is coming from - even if it is underground.

"We are the first commercial town to do something like this," said Simmons.

Town meeting by referendum will be held Tuesday, June 10, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the municipal building.

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

Chairman of the Shellfish Conservation Committee Abden Simmons addresses the Waldoboro Board of Selectmen and town manager at a May 29 meeting. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Town Manager Linda Jean Briggs, right, explains open positions she is advertising for the Town of Waldoboro. At the selectmen's meeting May 29, following a public hearing, the board approved the warrant for town referendum voting June 10. Also shown are selectman Ron Miller and Chairman Craig Cooley. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
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