Boothbay selectmen look at municipal budget first draft

Tue, 01/24/2023 - 8:45am

    In Dan Bryer’s last five years as town manager, his favorite word to describe his budget proposals is most likely “flat.” But a combination of historic inflation and a new town job has resulted in a spike in the 2023-24 budget proposal. 

    On Jan. 11, Bryer shared his budget’s first draft which shows a 6.78% increase. Bryer told selectmen a new job is slated for maintenance of Boothbay Common, the Clifford Park pavilion and public restrooms. “Energy costs, sewer, electricity are all up, but the biggest difference is the new position,” he said. Selectman Steve Lewis thought the overall proposal met the town’s immediate needs. “In the past two years, our tax rate went down a nickel last year, and a quarter, two years ago,” he said. “Dan has done a great job in the past, and it’s understandable with the need to take care of the common, pavilion and restrooms.”

    Bryer’s next budget project is organizing non-profit requests for potential hearing dates. In past years, selectmen have required any increased or new municipal requests attend a public hearing explaining their needs. Bryer reported, as of Jan. 11, he had not received a municipal request from Boothbay Region Ambulance Service. Lewis said the ambulance board met Jan. 18, and the town would likely receive those figures in time for any public hearings. 

    In other action, selectmen approved a proposal to amend the municipal personnel policy. Selectmen voted unanimously to add Juneteenth as a paid federal holiday and eliminate Windjammers Day as a paid half-day. Last June, Juneteenth became an approved federal holiday. For Boothbay, the additional paid holiday brought the municipal total to 14. “It’s already a pretty good holiday benefits package, so I think if we add Juneteenth, we need to remove a half-day for Windjammers.”

    Boothbay also became the third party to accept proposed school charter changes. For three months, Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor selectmen worked with school officials to “repeal and replace” the school charter. The three parties wanted to modernize charter language first adopted in 1953. Municipal officials also wanted more public participation in the school budget process. The revised charter would replace a town meeting budget-style hearing with a referendum. 

    State Rep. Holly Stover will submit the bill for legislative approval this month. 

    Selectmen meet next at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26 in the conference room.