August 18, 2019

Dexter Town Council struggles with budget

DEXTER — Dexter councilors Tuesday night continued work on next year’s municipal budget. Departmental budgets for assessing and the code enforcement office, the Planning Board, the transfer station and recycling center, the fire department, the Grist Mill Museum, the airport and the snowmobile club were reviewed.

Because Chairman Roger Brawn and Vice Chairman Karen Marlin, were unable to attend the meeting, as well as Councilor Charles Merrill, Roger Clukey was elected chairman and presided over the meeting.

Town Manager Steve Whitesel and department heads reviewed the individual budgets with each one proposing a decrease. Another trend in several of the budget discussions was the possibility that additional personnel might have to be hired.

Dave Pearson, assessor and code enforcement officer, said that the town may need to fund a part-time code enforcement officer. Currently, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension funds a part-time position, but that funding might be eliminated, he said.

Whitesel added that an additional person also might be needed at the transfer station and recycling center during times when current personnel go on vacation or take sick days, and additional personnel will probably be needed at the recycling center when the facility is fully operational.

The fire department’s budget proposal was greeted favorably by the council as were the airport budget which was decreased by 40 percent. The council also reviewed the Grist Mill Museum and snowmobile club budgets. Volunteers working in these departments and other municipal departments were lauded by councilors and the administration for their work.

The goal of the councilors this year at the budget workshops has been a zero increase in the tax rate for next year. Pearson said that if projections continue as planned, the tax rate could decrease next year by half a mill.

The council’s next budget workshop is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 2, at the town council chambers. Department budgets scheduled for review include the ambulance, building maintenance, recreation, and general administration.

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