Naples Town Meeting: Voters in a giving mood

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Perhaps, generosity sums it up.

Judging by the voting pattern for the 2013–14 budget, Naples residents did not mind applying tax money toward nonprofits that may or may not benefit the town.

However, the passage of those 12 warrant articles did have its opposition.

One budget committee member would have liked to dedicate more money toward the Western Maine Veterans’ Hospital.

During the annual Naples town meeting on June 5, residents passed the budget for fiscal year 2013–14.

At first, warrant Articles 30 through 42 were combined as one block. Then, a second motion was made to separate the line item for the Veterans’ Hospital.

An audience member asked why the amount was so low.

Town Manager Derik Goodine said that during a budget committee meeting, the hospital’s representatives asked for only $180.

James Robson, a Naples Budget Committee member, mentioned another member, Richard Cross, who was not present at the town meeting, said that the Veterans’ Hospital relies solely on donations and fundraising activities.

Naples Budget Committee member Laurel Cebra voted against the $180, saying she would have preferred that the town dedicate $500 to the facility that serves those who have served their country.

Earlier, prior to the vote to allocate funding to several service groups, Robson said the budget committee’s approach was to give the taxpayers a break in that area.

However, only about 15 people heeded his advice — voting against the articles.

Cebra later said, “Everyone has a special feeling for some of those charities. Like the American Red Cross is great at helping the victims of flooding or tornadoes, and some people like to give their money to the Red Cross.”

“We are not against these nonprofits. We were trying to cut the budget. We thought that the funds should come from the private sector and not using taxpayers’ money,” she said. “We wanted to give the residents the choice to use taxpayers’ money this way.”

Citizens also supported setting aside more money for town maintenance. The motion was to allocate $89,450, which was about $1,500 more than the budget committee recommended.

Earlier in the meeting — when Article 16 (Capital and other Reserves Fund Account) was on the floor — Goodine explained the plan to compensate for a potential loss of $100,000 from the state of Maine.

“The state revenue sharing is wiped out entirely. The budget committee said we would eventually have to absorb that lack of revenue. That’s where the $100,000 comes from,” he said. “It would be great if we knew by town meeting what the state was going to do. The tax bill won’t go out until September. We will have a special town meeting to address that problem when we know what that problem is.”

The safety net would be to reduce $100,000 from the road paving account.

“We can have the debate whenever we know what that figure is,” Goodine said.

Selectman Christine Powers, who also serves as an area representative in Augusta, said there was some uplifting news in the State House.

“There is a compromise coming from the Appropriations Committee,” she said, adding an outcome looked promising. “Nobody on either side of the aisle is happy about the cuts to revenue sharing.”

To view the Naples town meeting in its entirety, check out the Lake Region Television website.  

Please follow and like us: