Naples annual town meeting preview

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — This was the months-long reality of the Naples Budget Committee:

Binders filled with spreadsheets of costs and revenues, hours of presentations from town department heads and nonprofit agencies, countless discussions about what is needed and what the town can do without.

Now, it all comes to this: A proposed budget for the 2013–14 fiscal year.

The Naples Board of Selectmen has put its signatures to the budget warrant items. Additionally, during a special meeting on May 22, the board finalized a public green space use ordinance that will go before residents. This proposed ordinance would set a protocol for permits issued to seasonal vendors desiring a space on the Causeway.

The Naples Town Meeting will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the large meeting room in the town office.

According to Naples Town Clerk Judy Whynot, during the night of Town Meeting, when the moderator announces a warrant item is on the floor, any member of the voting public can ask questions or make comments.

When a budget warrant is open, any resident can make a request to change the monetary amount, she said.

“They cannot go for more than what the budget committee (lists), they can do less but they cannot do more,” she said.

However, if there is a split decision during a vote that happened during the Naples Budget Committee meetings, the public can go higher than the amount provided by the budget committee, according to Town Manager Derik Goodine.

He said that in the case of Article 17 through Article 26, the monetary amounts for community events and service-oriented groups are a guideline as to how the town has dedicated money in the past.

“These numbers give them, the public, an idea of how much we usually fund it for. These are things we have classically done,” Goodine said.

He said the citizens’ willingness to fund certain nonprofits and community activities will give him an idea of what to support in the future budgets.

During a meeting in early May, the board — with three of its five members present — voted unanimously to recommend the budget numbers of the town manager.

Selectman Rick Paraschak, who had been absent during that meeting, said he felt uncomfortable telling the public about some of the non-profit groups that the town supported – because he did not know the details.

“Typically, we, as a board, never took a stand on those articles. I have no defense on why I should give this money,” he said.

Selectman Christine Powers said, “It was Derik’s recommendation that we could afford to fund the nonprofits.”

Goodine said the total amount for Articles 17 through 26 “wouldn’t affect the mill rate, by one or two cents.”

After this discussion, the board agreed to change the language of the warrant and to remove the wording that said the selectmen recommended the amount for nonprofits.

This will give the public some flexibility in deciding how much to fund in those areas.

On Article 27, a milfoil removal fund, the budget committee did not make a recommendation because it had been included as part of the Town Maintenance Budget.

Goodine said there was a grant for milfoil removal, and he wanted to supply extra money to keep milfoil at bay at Kent’s Landing and the town’s public beach.

Also, the budget committee supported the allocation of less money for town maintenance because historically that number had been low, according to Budget Committee Chairman Marie Caron.

Paraschak said the recent improvements to the town’s infrastructure, the revamped Causeway and the expanded public beach — those improvements mean more money will be required for maintenance.

The town manager’s budget offered a higher amount for maintenance to reflect those changes in Naples.

Also, Paraschak expressed his concerns about Article 16, the Capital and other Reserves Fund Account. In this account, the budget committee recommended a $100,000 cut to paving and road reconstruction if State Revenue Sharing did not supply that amount.

This potential $100,000 cut at the state level has been discussed by the board and town manager during the course of several meetings.

According to Paraschak, “We (will) have to go to special town meeting unless they (the state) give(s) us 100 percent of what they said they would give us. We won’t know until the first week of June.”

Goodine agreed.

“I have come to the conclusion that we will need a special town meeting,” he said.

Selectman Powers suggested a wait-and-see approach, instead of making assumptions.

“Let’s cross those bridges when we get to them,” she said.

Copies of the Town Meeting 2013 warrant items are available at the town office.

 

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