Naples proposed budget maintains tax rate

 

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Voting Naples residents face some necessities that might be hard to ignore like replacing the town gymnasium’s leaky roof.

In fact, there are a number of expenditures in the town’s capital improvement plan. The roof is the most expensive with an estimated cost of $110,000. Other proposed capital improvements include purchasing a new one-ton truck and a plow for the maintenance department ($40,000); installing digital mapping ($18,500); constructing a storage garage and batting cages at the Plummer Memorial Field ($7,000); and replacing masonry work on the town’s brick buildings ($25,000). Improvements to the town cemeteries, such as replacing headstones and removing dangerous tree limbs, are also budgeted at $25,000.

The proposed 2018 budget is $12,147.707, which is a 4% increase from last year. The total budget number includes the School Administrative District (SAD) 61 budget, which is about $7.5 million, and the Cumberland County budget, which is approximately $500,000.

The good news is: The tax rate will remain the same, according to Naples Town Manager John Hawley.

On Monday night, there was joint meeting of the Naples Budget Committee and the Naples Board of Selectmen. The objective was to approve the warrant articles for the annual town meeting, which is scheduled for Saturday, June 9.

The town meeting warrants can be viewed online by going to www.townofnaples.org. The warrant articles as well as the proposed ordinances and ordinance amendments are located on the home page below the aerial view of the Causeway.

The budget committee met with the board this Monday and also on the previous Monday, April 23. It should be noted that selectmen Jim Grattelo and Jim Turpin serve as voting members of the budget committee. Other budget committee members who were present at both meetings are Chairman Kent Uicker, Caleb Humphrey and Vice-Chairman Robert Nyberg.

As the budget was presented, the committee had already increased the funding used for programs to mitigate the spread of milfoil. In the account referred to as outside agencies, $10,000 is being budgeted for Lakes Environmental Association (LEA). That is a 17% increase from last year. The Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce also received increased funding, up by 25% from last year to total a proposed $1,250.

After some discussion on April 23, the two groups voted against funding the public bus.

Last year, residents at town meeting voted down the bus funds. This year, the money requested for the Lakes Region Explorer bus was removed from the Naples budget.

The agency Regional Transportation Program (RTP), which operates the Explorer, requested funding from the towns of Bridgton, Casco, Naples, Raymond, Windham and Standish. RTP asked each town for $1,500. In 2017, the Town of Raymond budgeted $700 — half of what was asked for.

Selectman Rich Cebra made the motion to remove the Explorer bus funding entirely. Grattelo seconded the motion for the sake of discussion, he said.

Budget Chairman Uicker said he would prefer to “reduce rather than eliminate the funding.”

“We wanted to give them a chance,” Uicker said.

Cebra spoke.

“At what point is giving them a chance to get them going? There isn’t a critical mass to get people riding in the western Cumberland County,” he said.

“We gave them money the first year,” he said, adding that during last year’s town meeting the residents voted down funding for the bus and it was likely that would happen in Naples again.

“It is just not sustainable,” Cebra said.

Turpin took the floor.

“It appears they get by without our help,” Turpin said. “Do they get federal grants?”

Chairman Grattelo said RTP did get federal grants and funding.

Later, during the discussion, Selectman Bob Caron II said the total budget for the rural bus service is $145,000.

Cebra said that even though the Explorer takes daily trips to Portland, RTP did not request Portland to pay a portion of the bus’s budget.

The selectmen voted, 4-1, to do away with the bus funding. Kevin Rogers opposed.

The budget committee voted, 5-0, to take Regional Transportation out of the budget numbers.

In the discussion about Capital Improvements, Hawley said brick work was required at the old town hall, which is being rented for the future Bluesfest Museum and also as a meeting place for the Maine Bluesfest organizers.

Turpin asked about the prudence of using a new one-ton truck for plowing — considering it would shorten the lifespan of the vehicle.

“I just wanted to know about the one-ton truck for the Maintenance Department; and, there is also a sander unit. Taking a brand new one-ton truck and putting plow on it — that is heavy use I cannot help but wonder as a consumer, I might not want to beat up my one-ton truck with a plow when I could put a plow on the forestry truck,” Turpin said. “I hate to see a brand new truck beat up.”

Caron responded.

“That is what the truck is for. This is an oversight we should have done a long time ago,” Caron said. “I wish we could get a lease.”

There could be another advantage to the vehicle purchase — a reduction in the cost of maintaining some older vehicles and the opportunity for the town to sell them.

“If this (truck and plow purchase) is approved, we would replace our three old vehicles,” Hawley said.

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