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Madawaska proposing $6 million budget, with half mill tax increase

MADAWASKA, Maine — Selectmen have approved a $6 million budget that is about $630,000 higher than the previous year and will result in a half mill tax increase to $20.20 per $1,000 in property value if OK’d by voters.   

“We’ve looked at the budget five times, we looked through all the savings, and if we cut any more out of the budget, we’d have to cut staff and services,” Town Manager Gary Picard said Thursday.

Among the factors that “caused the budget to go up significantly over the last year,” according to Picard, are updates to the dispatching system, road projects, an increase in labor costs, and town property maintenance.

The police, fire and ambulance services each were required to up their budget by $25,000 just to cover the cost of the migration over to the new dispatch system. The police department also added an officer and the ambulance service added positions and equipment.

What people need to understand, according to Picard, is that there is revenue coming in and revenue going out. The ambulance service started providing services to Frenchville and St. Agatha, which brings in a revenue of a combined total of close to $23,000.

“There is also an offset of the cost because the ambulance service gets to bill the insurance companies,” Picard said.

The proposed budget that selectmen approved at Tuesday afternoon’s finance committee meeting is for the 2018-2019 fiscal year that started July 1. Selectmen delayed the budget process pending completion of an appraisal of the Twin Rivers Paper Mill, the community’s biggest taxpayer. Town officials said the paper mill property increased in taxable value which helped the tax rate.

Since July, the town has operated on a month to month basis spending no more than 1/12th of last year’s budget of $5.4 million each month.

The town is estimating a half of a mill increase in the property tax rate, raising it from 19.7 to 20.2.

“We’re optimistic,” Picard said. “This was a year where a lot of changes had to be made, but this budget is a reset on the town and puts it in a better position moving forward.”

All of the budget information will be shared with the public in the town report before the special town meeting that the Select Board is planning to schedule for Oct. 16, according to Picard.

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