Budget Committee weighs in on Bridgton budget

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Bridgton’s Budget Committee doesn’t think the town can afford to hire a new administrative assistant to help keep up with all the paperwork of the Community Development Block Grant program.

The four-member committee of Earl Cash, Art Triglione, Bill Vincent and Vanessa Jones also doesn’t think the Transfer Station needs another employee. But they’re split 2-2, on the question of whether the Bridgton Police Department needs another police officer.

The committee gave its recommendations to selectmen at their March 24 meeting. All down the line, they have urged a more frugal approach than that proposed by Town Manager Bob Peabody.

The committee suggests reducing funding to outside agencies by 20% per agency, based on last year’s requests, and thinks the 20% reduction ought to be continued each succeeding year until the amount is zero. The committee also would like to see last year’s $9,000 allocation to the North Bridgton Library returned to the General Fund, and not given to the Bridgton Public Library. They want the library to be held accountable to deliver an annual financial statement to the town, including assets, liabilities and working capital, before the budget season begins.

As it stands now, the budget season is nearly over. Both the Bridgton Board of Selectmen and the Budget Committee met jointly over the past month or so to go over individual line items, and the Budget Committee met separately one final time to come up with its recommendations. All that now remains is for selectmen to formally approve the budget proposal as revised, before sending it to voters for final approval at the June Town Meeting.

Peabody is advocating for the Administrative Assistant’s position, saying the person would greatly ease the workload on Anne Krieg, Director of Planning, Economic and Community Development. The county pays for CDBG paperwork help two days a week, but the new position would allow that person to work full-time. The Administrative Assistant would also help out Robbie Baker with code enforcement and back up the finance officer for payroll and accounts payable.

Other positions Peabody has requested are someone to work full-time in the summer on cemetery maintenance, and a part-time seasonal park attendant for the town beaches.

Gross appropriations proposed for this year are just over $6 million, or around $250,000 less than last year. As this is his first time preparing a Bridgton budget, Peabody said he’s looking at the municipal operations needs of Bridgton “with fresh eyes,” and hopes at least some of the changes he’s proposing will be given consideration.

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