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1/30/2014 6:00:00 PM
Proposed Municipal Budget for Nobleboro Down
By Dominik Lobkowicz

The proposed municipal budget for Nobleboro presented by Selectman Chair Dick Spear and unanimously recommended by the Nobleboro Budget Committee is down $18,970 or 2.4 percent over last year's voter-approved budget.

Even with the decreased municipal budget, the flat-funded budget for education ($2,851,490) recommended by the budget committee would still likely necessitate a tax increase of 0.3 or 0.4 mils, Spear said.

Because Nobleboro follows a calendar fiscal year and the school district follows a July to June fiscal year, school budgets are split between the town's fiscal years.

A voter-approved increase to the education budget for the current school year means even if the 2014-2015 school budget is flat funded, Nobleboro property taxpayers will shoulder a $110,708 increase to education in 2014 over 2013.

The town has held a flat or reduced mil rate since 2009, when it was $10.10 per $1000 valuation, according to documents Spear provided. The mil rate was $9.80 per $1000 valuation in 2013.

A full mil in Nobleboro represents about $310,000 in taxes, Spear said.

The largest increase in the proposed budget comes in the town administration category at $161,972, an increase of $12,272.

Spear said the increase is largely from a $10,400 increase to health insurance for covering a second full-time employee in the town office.

The largest decrease is $15,535 to $34,465 for the town's annual payment on a fire truck purchased last year.

The winter maintenance category is proposed at $147,458, down $12,042 because of a new contract with Hagar Enterprises for plowing, sanding, and salting town roads.

Spear said $120,000 was budgeted for Hagar in the winter maintenance category in 2013 because the town's contract with the company was expected to increase more than it did.

Several budget committee members expressed concern about whether Hagar was taking town sand and salt out of town.

Nobleboro provides sand and salt to Hagar for their roads, whereas Hagar provides sand and salt for both Newcastle and Damariscotta.

Spear said he could not guarantee where exactly the sand and salt was going, but has had conversations with the company about such concerns.

The road maintenance category is proposed at $86,000, up $3000 to accommodate the removal of four big trees in a cemetery on East Neck Road, according to town documents.

The half-dead trees need to come down, Spear said.

"We've had so many complaints about them, they need to be taken down," he said.

Selectman Walter "Al" Lewis said the trees in question are in the right-of-way, and are large enough that they need to be taken down piece by piece.

A flat request of $90,000 for paving is included in the proposed budget, in addition to $85,000 that will be carried forward from 2013 since the selectmen canceled their contract for paving after Marriner's Paving failed to meet the project's deadline.

The carry-over will be used to finish up paving on Upper East Pond Road and Eugley Hill Road, and the regular $90,000 request would be used to pave Bremen and Bennett roads, Spear said.

"I guarantee Marriner's is not going to do it," Lewis said of the projects.

Budget committee member Bob Spear was concerned that if the selectmen did not hold Marriner's to their contract from 2013, it could cost the town more money for the same project.

"That whole bid might go up $10,000," Bob Spear said.

"But you might get it done, too," countered committee Chair Richard Powell.

Dick Spear said the selectmen may consult a lawyer about having some sort of a penalty in the paving contract for 2014.

The budget for code enforcement is proposed to stay close to flat at $18,214, an increase of $31.

"Most of this comes back in permits, anyhow," Spear said.

Powell said he was concerned about how thinly spread the town's code enforcement officer, Stan Waltz, may be with the number of different towns he covers.

"Is he able to provide the services we need in a timely manner?" Powell asked.

Spear confirmed Waltz does.

"There isn't much building going on," Spear said.

Other categories in the proposed budget were general administration at $42,250, down $2400; maintenance of town buildings at $31,400, up $3400; street lights at $4600, no change; fire department at $56,800, down $4200; welfare at $0 ($5763 will be carried forward from 2013), down $2000; animal control at $0 ($3428 will be carried forward), down $4007; miscellaneous at $4419, no change; outside agencies at $32,165, up $3011; a flat $62,780 for the town's share of the Nobleboro-Jefferson Transfer Station budget; a flat $1050 for the town's boat landing; and $500 for interest on a possible tax anticipation note, down $500.

Spear said the selectmen are going to recommend using $200,000 from the roughly $300,000 in excise taxes the town takes in and a flat $275,000 from surplus to offset taxes in 2014.

Nobleboro's annual town meeting will be held Saturday, March 15.

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