BUCKSPORT — At Town Manager Roger Raymond’s suggestion, the Town Council has recommended that any tax increase for the 1998-99 fiscal year be limited to 2 1/2 percent to 3 percent.
At Thursday night’s Town Council meeting, Raymond asked for the panel’s direction as the municipal and school budgeting process gets under way. Since no significant new revenues to the town are expected, he strongly suggested maintaining the current level of town and school staffing and services rather than expanding them.
“I would like to see us, when times are reasonably good, make an effort to upgrade our existing facilities, especially schools,” Raymond said. He said the town has made great strides in many areas, but that school buildings have suffered.
“Repairing schools makes a lot of sense,” agreed newly elected Mayor Jeffrey Robinson Sr. For many visitors to Bucksport, such as those attending evening sports events, their impression of the town is based on its school buildings, he said.
According to Raymond, more than one of the schools has a leaky roof. In addition, the school department is unsure to what extent the state will support a middle school construction project some say is needed.
For those reasons and others, he hopes a committee of residents, town councilors and school board members can form to study school facility needs and look at various funding options. Those alternatives could include using funds from local surplus, Raymond said.
As for the municipal side of the budget, Raymond said he did not foresee any aspect of operations requiring a significant increase. Whereas the valuation of Champion International’s Bucksport mill is expected to stay the same as last year, the town’s valuation is expected to grow slightly.