Naples safety net to offset state’s budget
By Dawn De Busk
NAPLES — People are frequently forced to compensate when projected income doesn’t materialize.
Sometimes, the purchase of items that are both necessary and desired is delayed for a few more years.
Many eyes have been focused on Gov. Paul Le Page’s proposed state budget — which would reduce revenue usually divvied out to Maine’s towns.
During a Naples Board of Selectmen meeting, Town Manager Derik Goodine recommended delaying scheduled road repairs to offset the potential decrease in state funding. For the taxpayers of Naples, the timing could not be worse because a road bond debt is due during the upcoming fiscal year, he said.
Goodine asked for assistance from Selectman Christine Powers, who also serves in Augusta as the state Representative for District 101.
Powers, along with Rep. Lisa Villa, plans to schedule a citizens’ forum on the state budget at the Lake Region High School in mid-April.
As requested by the Naples Budget Committee, Goodine has put to paper an emergency plan for the 2013–14 budget. On Monday, he introduced it to the selectmen as “a plan designed to soften the blow.”
“The budget committee has asked me to bring them revenue and capital improvements ahead of time,” he said, explaining the timeliness of his proposal.
The solution would be a postponement in road rebuilding. However in the interim, those streets in dire need — such as Wiley Road, Cooks Mills Road, Flags Mills Road, Ellen Drive and Old Cooks Mills Road — would receive crack sealant treatment.
Three years from now, and in order to continue with infrastructure upgrades, the town would borrow $500,000. If residents approve that loan, the first payment would be due in July or August 2017, which would be a new budget year.
Most likely, the town would approach the road improvements through the reclamation process. Essentially, the pavement would be torn up, injected with concrete or high-grade pavement, and re-laid onto the roadway, Goodine said.
After hearing the details of the town manager’s road repair deferral plan, Powers spoke.
“This is your emergency plan – if the governor’s budget passes, correct? Because, not everyone thinks it is going to pass,” she said.
Goodine said he agreed that the state budget would be altered from Le Page’s original version, but it was prudent for the town to have a strategy to keep local taxes low.
Later, Powers said the focus should be on altering the state budget first.
“There is an awful lot of public outcry” about the governor’s proposed budget, she said.
Powers said in many towns, people were gathering on the local level to express their displeasure and to seek an alternative financial fix. She said a forum for the region’s residents was in the planning stage.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Powers said she and Rep. Villa were still trying to set a calendar date for the forum.
The community forum would likely be held in mid-April on a Monday night at the Lake Region High School, she said. The exact date for the public forum will be publicized in the near future, Powers said.
Powers uses social media to correspond with her constituents. People can contact her at RepChristine.Powers@legislature.maine.gov
Meanwhile, the Naples Finance Committee continues to meet every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Naples Grange building.