Bills could severely cut back funding
To the Editor:
The Dixfield Select Board and Finance Committee are currently teaming up to prepare their recommendations for next year’s municipal budgets.
A series of bills introduced to the Maine State Legislature would severely cut back funding to Maine towns.
There is also a proposed reduction to the homestead allowance. What is liable to happen in Augusta has many of us unprepared for a potential, huge increase in local tax bills. By the time of the town meeting, May 23, we probably will not know what Augusta will do. They have until the end of June to decide on budget cuts.
A large portion of revenue in the town’s budget is a forecast on what the Select Board thinks the state will send. Could be $500,000, could be $0. This is unprecedented times.
For many, this world of unknown future income is personally felt as uncertainty of job hours or, even a job itself, is too real.
Household budgets are given extra scrutiny in today’s economy. Many are cutting back on necessities, making tough choices and putting purchases and thoughts of loans on hold.
I have introduced a couple voting requests for the town meeting warrant that would better prepare us , the voters, to handle this situation with Augusta cuts and our own personal economic uncertainty. One vote would allow town department heads to instruct the Select Board to call a special town meeting if the department head fears he/she hasn’t adequate budget funds, allocated by voters, to make it to the end of the budget year.
A vote to allow this would give the voters opportunity to adjust a departmental budget request at the annual town meeting as insurance and peace of mind to unknown developments that may occur in this present, rapidly changing economic environment, and give the term “accountability" a meaning.
Another vote would have citizens at the annual town meeting propose an alternative amount to an article and then decide if this amount as well as the Select Board/Finance Committee amount will be presented as choices on a secret ballot in June when the school budget comes to vote.
The process of trying to establish an "on the spot" budget amount at a workday evening meeting is difficult and, in the past, has brought about many re-tries on a single budget item and often leads to confusion. This would allow time for thought between May 23rd and June 11th.
The people at the town meeting would decide which articles would be moved forward for June 11th. Vote during the course of deliberations.