Boothbay Harbor selectmen received the town's annual audit report from Fred Brewer CPA Sept. 13. Brewer reported nothing unusual and commended the town for putting more into undesignated funds this year, though he also said the town could have afforded to apply more of those funds to the budget and still maintain a healthy balance.
An agreed amount of undesignated funds are applied to offset the tax burden and this year’s $8.8 million budget drew $700,000 in those funds. This leaves about $1.2 million in excess funds; the town is collecting what it needs and is not overspending, Brewer said.
"There are plenty of places you could do some good work you wouldn't have to borrow for. The town office is always something we're talking about, how it's aging and trying to get the HVAC system ... looked at."
Overall, Brewer said he is pleased with the audit report and the hard work municipal staff did to reach a 99.58% collection rate for taxes. "This is the best I've ever seen percentage-wise ... The staff is out there talking to people and saying, ‘Hey, why don't you come pay your taxes?’ Sometimes it just refreshes people’s memories and they come in and pay it. It's about the diligence and dedication to try and collect as much taxes."
Town Manager Julia Latter said Assistant Tax Collector Tricia Fallon is to thank for many of those payments coming in early. "She collects and plays a game with herself to always see if she can do better. Trish works exceptionally hard to collect our taxes, so I have to shout out to her for her efforts."
Latter announced Harbormaster Jeff Lowell submitted his letter of resignation Sept. 13 effective immediately. Lowell was hired Aug. 13, 2019 after the town spent several weeks advertising the job. Latter said she would ask Deputy Harbormaster Derek Cola if he would be willing to carry the responsibilities through the end of the season while she advertises the job.
The town is also still looking for a heavy equipment operator for public works. The job has been advertised in the Boothbay Register, Wiscasset Newspaper and on social media; however, Latter said when the ads time out on Sept. 17, she will need to renew and perhaps broaden advertising. "There is a traveling restriction for public works employees, we usually try to stay locally, but if I do not receive any applications locally, I'll broaden my scope of where I advertise."
Board of Appeals Chair Merritt Blakeslee resigned Aug. 24 effective immediately. In a search for more board members, former member Lawrence Rebel and Ronald Cohen turned in applications. Selectmen chose to discuss the applications in executive session, but made no decisions after coming out of it.
Dirigo Engineering notified the town Boothbay Region Water District will be constructing a new water main on Ocean Point Road from Townsend Avenue to Bradley Road, on Back Narrows Road and on Montgomery Road, said Latter. The project is estimated at $4 million and a schedule has not yet been shared. Latter will seek more information.
This article has been updated from its original posting.