Piecing together Naples town budget

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Planning a budget has a few obvious steps.

First, plug in all the reliable revenue. Then, estimate — or don’t count on — the questionable revenue.

Next, set aside money to cover all the necessary bills, staff salaries and anticipated purchases. Also, put aside funds for those unexpected items.

Somewhere along the line, budget planners might arrive at a philosophical discussion.

For the Naples Budget Committee, that discussion happened while deciding on how to allocate town funding to nonprofits and community service groups.

On Monday, the Naples Board of Selectmen heard a basic rundown of the proposed budget for fiscal year 2013–14. The board — with Selectmen Dana Watson, Rick Paraschak, and Christine Powers — voted 3–0 to support the proposed budget with official recommendations from the town manager and budget committee members.

Budget Committee Chairman Marie Caron said it took a couple of meetings for the committee to review the portion of the budget referred to as Community Groups.

“The consensus of the (budget committee), after three hours of discussion between two meetings, it is getting to be the time that the taxpayer needs to decide which groups to support,” Caron said.

By passing the budget as proposed — with an increase in the Community Groups, the residents would be able to cut funding when that warrant item is on the floor during Town Meeting.

This would allow “the taxpayer to make (his or her) own decision” about which groups to support financially, according to Caron.

Town Manager Derik Goodine agreed that planning the Community Groups section of the budget was a tall task.

“We did an exercise, which helped to prioritize the groups that serve the people in Naples,” he said.

The budget committee had requested presentations and additional information from the groups that requested funding.

“A few of the ones that failed to give us requests last year made requests this year. I tried to divvy up as fairly as I could, but keep the amounts as close as to what they were (in the budget) in the previous years,” Goodine said.

“There was a question whether the groups could fund-raise or ask private individuals, rather than going through the towns,” he said.

“We wanted to give the vets (Western Maine Veterans) something.

“If we don’t put something in there, that group won’t go on the budget for Town Meeting. I told the budget committee I had to fund it at something. If they are at zero, they won’t get anything,” he said.

Essentially, the voting residents will have some flexibility if town contributions are set at higher numbers for nonprofits and locally-based community service organizations.

The Community Groups’ proposed budget is $49,800, which is $2,000 more than the 2012–13 budget.

Naples Town Meeting is scheduled for June 5, which falls on a Wednesday. Warrant items can be finalized as few as seven days before Town Meeting, Goodine said.

The selectmen praised the work of some of the budget committee members who were sitting in the audience including but not limited to, Chairman Caron, Jeff Merrill, Richard Cross and Laurel Cebra.

“Thank you a lot. (Being on the budget committee) is a thankless job,” Selectman Watson said.

Earlier, Caron had commented, “It is has become very difficult to do this. All the managers have done an excellent job to weed everything out. There is not a lot of wiggle room in this budget.”

Goodine agreed, saying the 2013–14 budget was a lean budget that not only cut the fat out, but also sliced into a little bit of the meat.

However, he was hopeful that the town would not be caught short-funded.

“We will make it work. We will use the unanticipated expense – $25,000 — before we go to Special Town Meeting,” he said.

These are some the town manager’s highlights of the budget:

• Administration has a reduction of $1,670. Savings were found in health insurance, unemployment insurance, telephone bills, legal expenses, and fuel oil.

• Animal control is down $733.

• The town was able to save on Roads and Highways by cutting $10,000 in paving, and still having enough money to “get through next winter.”

• An increase in debt service is due to the road bond, which will be due this year. That decrease of $155,800 brings that line item to $333,275.

• The budget shows an increase in Revenue; and that is in part to making a cut in the Road Reserve.

• The Town Manager’s total municipal budget is $3,137,609.

• The Naples Budget Committee’s total municipal budget is $3,100,429.

• The Naples Town Meeting is held on the first Wednesday in June. This year it will be June 5 at 7 p.m. in the large meeting room at the Naples Town Office.

• The town does not set the overlay until late September when the tax bills go out. However, the town manager prefers to calculate a mill rate, so residents know where that stands in advance of tax time.

 

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