Naples selectmen chaws over $18K

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Some things tend to get re-hashed.

Last year, members of the Naples Budget Committee and Naples Town Manager Derik Goodine delved not only into the hard numbers of the portion of the budget that supports nonprofit groups, but also discussed the philosophy of supporting charities with public dollars.

This year as part of the budget preparation, the committee and town manager “agreed to disagree” and forego two hours of discussion, Goodine said.

The town spends about $55,000 on local community groups such as the snowmobile club, milfoil prevention programs, softball and baseball leagues, Naples Main Street, and a food pantry transportation program. Meanwhile, $17,000 is budgeted for nonprofit agencies that are headquartered outside of Naples, but benefit residents of the town.

During Monday’s Naples Board of Selectmen meeting, Selectman Christine Powers suggested that the board vote in support of the budget items titled Outside Agencies. The budget committee vote in favor of that section was split, 2–2.

Powers said historically the selectmen have backed the expenditure of funds in that area.

Robert Caron II explained the other side of the coin: Allowing residents to decide which nonprofits they would like to support; and giving people the option to remove or lower that cost from the town’s budget.

Both Powers and Caron expressed their opinions with a level of passion in their voices. However, the discussion was tempered.

When it came to a vote to recommend the $17,080 expenditure, one board member was momentarily undecided, still mentally digesting the brief debate. However, the board voted, 5–0, to recommend the amount listed during Town Meeting on June 4.

When Powers first suggested the board vote on the matter, Caron responded.

“We tell the budget committee” to create a fiscally-sound, prudent budget, he said. Yet, the selectmen recommend a higher number after the budget committee has trimmed line items as requested.

“There is a balancing act,” Caron said. The budget committee looks at what is an absolute necessity and what can be removed from taxpayers’ shoulders.

“It is $18,000 that could be used somewhere else,” he said.

Powers said, “I am not against the budget committee. I don’t consider it against the hard work of the budget committee.”

She said the board has historically voted in support of giving money to these groups — these outside agencies which include American Red Cross, Tri-Country Mental Health, and the Senior Transportation Program. The board’s recommendation of that portion of the budget is listed for people to see during Town Meeting.

“It is no impact to the mil rate. It’s important,” Powers said.

Caron continued the discussion, saying, “My only question is two people on budget committee thought the money could be used somewhere else. Yeah, okay, it’s not affecting the mil rate.”

Powers listed some of the agencies that provide services to local residents.

She mentioned Home Health Visiting Nurses, People Regional Opportunity Alliance (PROP) which is located in Portland and provides heating assistance to rural residents, and the Regional Transportation Program (RTP). She added the RTP has only recently started providing bus service between Portland and Naples.

“Regional Transportation bus services is just getting off the ground,” she said.

“These are critical areas for citizens of Naples. I don’t want to go in with having no opinion on it,” she said.

Caron recrafted the motion before the board.

“We should say it is done in the past, and (ask) do we want to go forward in the future,” he said.

When Chairman Dana Watson called for a vote, Selectman Rick Parashak’s hand hovered in the air. He lifted it up, and then lowered his hand. He explained his hesitation.

“I don’t know how to vote. I don’t want to take from the budget committee. In the past, the budget committee has weeded out those not as important as these. We have already done the weeding. It could have been $25,000,” he said.

The vote to recommend the line items in the budget was unanimous.

Goodine said the amount would not change this year’s tax rate. The mil rate would not shift if the money was removed, or if the amount remained in the budget, he said.

A copy of the proposed 201–-15 municipal budget is available on the Naples Town website, www.townofnaples.org. Town Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 4, at 7 p.m. in the town gymnasium. 

 

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