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Lamoine Budget Committee Minutes September 19, 2005 (Draft, subject to change)

Chairman Henry Ashmore called the meeting to order at 7:03 PM

Present were: Budget Committee members Henry Ashmore, Reggie McDevitt, Hubene Brodie, Joe Young, Robin Veysey, Linda Feury; Administrative Assistant Stu Marckoon, Selectmen Cynthia Donaldson, Jo Cooper, Asst. Tax Collector Kathy DeFusco and Cable TV Technicians Katie Bowman and Katie Murphy.

Election of Officers Joe nominated Henry as Chair. Hubene 2 nd . Vote in favor was 4-0 (Ashmore abstained)

Hubene nominated Joe as Vice-Chair. Reggie 2 nd . Vote in favor was 4-0 (Young opposed)

Reggie nominated Stu to serve as Secretary. Hubene 2 nd . Vote in favor was 5-0.

Budget Submissions and Meeting Schedule

The Board agreed upon the following schedule for the budget season:

Date

Budgets to be Reviewed

October 24, 2005

Administration, Code Enforcement, Planning, Revaluation Reserve, Revenues

November 14, 2005

Solid Waste, Roads, Cable TV

November 28, 2005

Public Safety

December 12, 2005

Parks, Library, Social Service Requests

December 19, 2005

(snow date if reschedule needed)

January 9, 2006

School Budget

January 23, 2006

Wrap Up, Recommendations

March 7&8, 2006

Annual Town Meeting (probable date)

Budgeting Philosophy/Goals

Stu asked whether the Budget Committee would prefer to include an LD-1 override in the town meeting warrant next spring. Hubene said that would be up to the Selectmen. Jo Cooper asked what would happen if the Selectmen don't decide on an override article until after the budget season is complete. She said she would like to see what the absolute needs are, not to spend as much as we want. She said she would like to see what is needed to raise, and then make that decision. She said the town is going to keep running into a wall. She asked what the budget committee is thinking. She said the Selectmen want to hear back from the committee as it goes through the budget process.

Henry said the Selectmen had the luxury of waiting until the warrant has to be put in to make that decision. He said the Budget Committee doesn't need to make that decision at all. He said the Committee goes through the budget to meet the needs of the community. Jo said she hopes for direction from the Budget Committee on where to raise the funds. She said if the only alternative is to spend down the surplus then the Selectmen need to make a decision. Henry asked if there was any thought of addressing this through the Legislature. Jo said that came up during the public hearings. She said Lamoine is being punished for being fiscally prudent. Henry said our state representative could present a bill. He said he's sure Lamoine is not alone in this situation.

Joe Young said we'll be sending letters to the social service agencies as we did last year, and they were cut. He said if we plan to cut this area again this year, it wouldn't be fair to make them come in again. Jo Cooper said a letter could contain that proviso. Joe Young said that could be reinforced with an explanation. Henry said no matter what the Budget Committee does, the town meeting can undo it. Joe Young said we should go forward and cut where we can.

Henry said the committee knows it is confronted with no increase. Robin said the town tax commitment for the municipal portion of the budget. Henry asked if the only increase in the municipal budget was for the ambulance. Stu said no. He said there were increases in several areas across the board. He said the limit in zero property tax commitment was actually a negative commitment the previous year. A short discussion followed on surplus use and revenue sources.

Linda asked how the actual to budget compares on the revenue lines. Stu said excise tax is strong and he brought out the bi-weekly revenue report. He said things are about where the budget should be. Henry said the area to concentrate on is to figure out how to keep to a zero tax commitment. Jo Cooper said in the short term the town can manage cash flow, but in the long term, things can be put on hold only for so long. A short discussion followed. Robin said the town can't spend $50,000 a year in surplus without replenishing it. Stu gave a quick revenue summary, saying excise tax is up, but code enforcement revenues are down.

Reggie said the Budget Committee has to establish goals on what is most important, and go from there. Henry asked if there were any big issues coming up this year. Jo said they've not done that projection with the budget in mind. She said it's hard to put a calendar date on things such as the effort to construct a new gym. Stu said he know of no major capital expenses other than Seal Point Road repaving which is a similar length as Shore Road, but the cost of asphalt will be higher. A short discussion followed on the Route 184 project and paving bids.

Hubene said she liked the graph on the tax bills this year. She said the Budget Committee should go over the school budget with a fine tooth comb as one goal.

Linda said the number one goal is no increase in the municipal budget without affecting services. Joe Young and Robin agreed the major goals have been covered.

Stu asked if the committee was asking him to prepare the budget as usual with the expenses in mind, and not squeezing them into the revenues. A short discussion followed. Henry said the committee should do what it always has done, and look at the proposed increases when the budget comes in. He referred to the increase in secretarial time last year as one area that received scrutiny.

Jo Cooper said that when the Budget Committee comes to the end point where it makes recommendations, she would like to see two recommendations if necessary. She said she trusts the budget committee to be realistic. Henry asked if she is thinking that the committee says to each department to present a budget that is no higher than the current year, then supplement that with those things beyond that level. Jo Cooper said that would be one way. Linda said the departments need to prioritize. Jo Cooper said you could go 10-years without fixing a road, but the road commissioner, for example, should explain why to spend the money now. Henry said it is like asking if the fire department wanted 50-feet of hose or a pager. Jo Cooper said the Selectmen have asked each department to give a long-range plan, and that would help with the budget. Cynthia said the Selectmen have not pursued that, and that should get back on the agenda. She said it would be helpful to know when the next fire engine should be purchased. A short discussion took place.

Cynthia said the cuts this year removed crack sealing, for example. She said it would be helpful to learn the long-term impact of that. Reggie said the town has been told the school building is deteriorating for five year. He said that will hit us between the eyes, and the town can't do it all in one year. He said the town has to look at the school building. He said the school committee should furnish the budget committee with a program to update the school building.

Hubene asked how many students are in the school. Robin and Stu said about 140-close to the same as last year. Henry said there are 3-ways to approach the repairs needed at the school. One is to self fund; another is to get into the renovation fund, and the 3 rd is to ask the state for a new school. He said the school department did that exercise with the state and came out 39 th on the list. He said priorities with the state shift each year. He said he's not sure of the condition of the school. He wondered if renovation is dumping good money after bad. A short discussion followed on the history of the school. Stu noted the school department is looking at the revolving renovation fund.

Henry asked if the town should build a new gym without a new school building. Jo Cooper said there is a real need for a gym facility. She said the community response in the gym fund is not necessarily from emotion, but to need. She said there is a possibility there would be no home basketball games this year. She said a gym impacts lots of things.

Jo Cooper asked about attendance at Budget Committee meetings and whether the committee wants another alternate member. Henry said the board has 5-members with one alternate. Jo Cooper noted only two members attended town meeting last year. Henry said that's pretty typical. A short discussion followed. Jo Cooper said the Budget Committee is a big job put on a few people. Henry said there is pretty solid attendance when the committee works on the budget. He said he made all the meetings last year. Hubene noted she suffered from the flu and missed several meetings. Henry said he was not able to attend town meeting, but usually a few members are there. Stu suggested that perhaps a budget committee member be designated as a spokesman for town meeting.

Linda noted she didn't sit up front at town meeting. Reggie said the committee is working well as a board now. He said a larger board might have more input, but that can invite more conflict. Linda said she thinks the board works efficiently. She said she likes to sit in the audience so she can hear feedback and she can't get that up front. Hubene said the committee works well together. Jo Cooper said her concern was for board support. Joe Young said it was nice to have the Selectmen at the Budget Committee meetings. Stu agreed, saying he wasn't always comfortable speaking for the Selectmen when he doesn't know exactly how they stand.

Linda asked if it might be effective to invite a legislator to a goal setting meeting. Cynthia said she was impressed by the Planning Board 's performance at the last town meeting. She said it might be helpful to introduce the committees at town meeting so people can see who they are.

Reggie noted there is a new town name in Hancock County Fletcher's Landing. A short discussion followed.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:00 PM

Respectfully submitted,

Stu Marckoon, Secretary