Naples officials discuss budget philosophy

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Like many towns in Maine, Naples Town Manager Derik Goodine and the local budget committee are preparing for a possible worst-case scenario.

On Monday, Goodine and the Naples Board of Selectmen hashed over the proposed budget if state funding is slashed.

Per usual, the goal of the budget planners has been to keep the mill rate as low as possible.

“We have to pay the piper sooner or later,” Goodine said, adding he would prefer that Naples’ property taxpayers ease into any increase.

“I think we can land this budget. But, we will have some overdrafts — if we don’t have everything go right,” Goodine said.

“My budget is the tightest I’ve ever seen it. I am kind of scared if something goes wrong. The reserve fund is our best friend in case something unforeseen happens,” he said.

Goodine’s current proposed budget reduces the capital reserve fund essentially delaying some road paving and saving the town $100,000.

Board members suggested having an alternative budget with fewer cuts. The reasoning is that by the time Town Meeting is held in June, those state cuts might be less than what is currently on the table.

During town meeting, people can open the budget-related warrant item to lower it. But, they cannot raise it, Paraschak said.

“So, give warrant items with higher numbers and people can vote lower if the state cuts happen,” he said.

Selectman Christine Powers agreed that possibly the Naples Budget Committee could produce a budget without the potential state cuts. Powers added that Maine Governor Paul LePage’s proposed budget is not set in stone; and already, on the floor of the House of Representatives positive changes have been made to the budget.

Chairman Bob Caron liked the idea of two budgets being presented to citizens at the annual town meeting. He also suggested Goodine give alternatives to the budget committee.

“Earlier, I asked Derik to create two budgets — one with the cuts, and one without the cuts,” Chairman Caron said.

Paraschak said his biggest concern is that the town might cut itself short with a skeleton budget, and be unable to get money back into the budget in the 11th hour.

“The last thing we want to do is send out a supplemental tax bill,” he said.

Goodine promptly responded, “That won’t happen.”

Earlier in the discussion about the proposed 2013–14 town budget, Paraschak said he had concerns with reductions to road repairs.

“If I can get on my soap box: I give Derik credit. He’s crunched all kinds of numbers to get this budget down. Philosophically I have an issue with” reducing the capital improvement fund, he said. “We have a town budget of $1.2 million. We are trying like hell to keep the taxes down. I don’t think I have ever seen us cut our road maintenance budget out for the year. What we are going to do is not pave any of those roads we have scheduled to pave.”

Paraschak added, “Derik created a plan to upkeep the roads. We borrowed money to fix the roads that we hadn’t kept up. We’ve kept to that plan. Now, we are going to go right back to not maintaining them. I don’t agree that is the right action for the roads. We are cutting the budget for the roads; and, I think that is the wrong move.”

Another possible budget reduction is the consolidation of the Naples Fire and Rescue Department with neighboring towns.

“Those cuts don’t come overnight,” Goodine said, adding the towns have to get together and work on an agreement, too.

The board agreed that was a money-saver, but it would not reduce the proposed budget.

Meanwhile, Goodine predicted he should have figured out the mill rate by the end of the week.

“The budget committee has done everything (every line item) except the nonprofits. Those are going to take a hit,” he said.

Goodine plans to put locally-based nonprofits on the highest tier — the ones to be cut last. He included the milfoil prevention efforts and the Muddy River Snowmobile Club among those local groups that could be spared from the budget cuts.


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