Budget public hearing tonight in Harrison

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

HARRISON — Harrison selectmen will hold a public hearing tonight, May 3, on the proposed 2012-2013 municipal budget of $1.95 million.

The meeting gets underway at 7 p.m. at the Harrison Town Office.

Town Manager George “Bud” Finch, working with the Budget Committee, managed to keep costs down, resulting in an increase of only $20,894 over last year, or .4%. Public works comprises the largest portion, at $519,708, with administration second at $462,168. The budget includes $300,000 for roads, and a reserve account of $75,000.

Finch said at the board’s April 19 meeting that he planned to “seek an audience” with Maine Governor Paul Lepage as well as Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen to appeal for changes in the state’s EPS school funding formula that hits communities like Harrison, with no commercial tax base, particularly hard. Education expenses account for around 64% of the town’s combined projected budget of $6,164,119. Finch said that increase alone will result in a mill rate increase of around 42 cents.

Finch said he was going to send a letter at first, but “I don’t think a letter in itself is going to do justice in explaining what we see as the injustices in the educational system.” He hopes to gain support in his appeal from other towns in the SAD 17 School District.

In other action, the board:

• Tabled an application for a liquor license for the Olde Mill Tavern until May 3, in order to allow the Planning Board to rule on May 2 regarding the restaurant’s request for outdoor seating.

• Approved a new liquor license for Ruby Slippers Café and Bakery on Route 117. The owners were in the audience and were wished good luck by selectmen as they expand their offerings.

• Accepted donations to the recreation department from Western Maine Fish & Game, Richard and Charlene Schieferstien, Q.C. Services, Inc. and the Harrison Lions Club.

• Heard from Finch that safety improvements are planned at the town office, to prevent snow from falling off the roof on people and to ensure that the building is secure.

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