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Mexico budget approved
MEXICO -- Voters on June 14 approved a town budget of $2.844 million, an increase of 8.98 percent.
The total budget, including the county and school, is $4.133 million, which represents a 7.73 percent increase.
Approved by wide margins were $336,354 for administration (town office, officials, etc.), $875,608 for public safety (fire, police, hydrants, etc.), and $648,527 for public works (summer and winter roads)
The closest vote (128-124) was to approve the recreation budget of $93,586. The controversial issue with this budget was reducing Recreation Director Greg Arsenault's fulltime position to 20 hours a week and eliminating his benefits, a savings of about $19,000.
While the town will have a budget increase, town officials are moving in a direction to improved their road system.
Due to the bad economy, the town took advantage of low interest rates to take out three road reconstruction bonds from the Maine Municipal Bond Bank. These include a five-year $500K bond with $49,000 interest, a 10-year $300K bond with $50,947 interest, and a 15-year $2.1 million bond with $337,000 interest.
The town got some great news when they received an unexpected windfall of $704,975.10 from the Maine State Retirement Association because the town's account was closed out.
Town Manager John Madigan said the retirement system called several towns that are inactive in the system and Mexico has been inactive since 2004. "We've been members since 1964 and we have very few people who are drawing retirement. But all of those funds have been pulled out into a different fund for those folks, so we have basically no one in the system. What they said was that they were calling the inactive towns to see if they wanted to close out their funds."
"These are funds that would have been the town's contribution back in the sixies, seventies and eighties, and a lot of people who work in municipalities or if they move or go to another town," he said. "They were all able to take theur contribution out of the town's contribution. So we have no obligation on this money. We didn't know exactly what that money was going to be until they actually sold the assets because the state invests all these assets."
Madigan said selectmen and the Budget Committee agreed that the best use of the $705K would be to set it aside to allocate to the debt service over the next five years. This includes $135,000 for this year, $227,000 for next year and $228,000 the year after that.
In a couple of other votes, citizens approved an article (228-24) to change the fire department bylaws to allow residents from other towns who have contracted fire service with Mexico to be eligible to serve on the fire department call force.
Also approved (234-17) the fire protection services agreement with the Town of Byron and authorize the selectmen to execute the agreement on behalf of the town.
Selectmen from Mexico and Byron agreed on a 15-year deal Tuesday night that calls for the Mexico Fire Department to provide fire coverage for Byron.
The plan has been in the works for several months. Both boards believe it is a win-win situation for the towns.
The agreement calls for Byron to turn over a 2005 fire engine to Mexico. In return, the Mexico Fire Department will provide fire coverage for 15 years. At the end of that period, Madigan said his town's department will know the costs for providing fire coverage and the cost per year will be determined.
Byron's Fire Department disbanded several months ago because of fewer volunteer firefighters and more training and paperwork required.
Mexico had planned to purchase a new fire engine. With the agreement with Byron, that will not be necessary for several years.