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Budget panel to review SADC’s funding, budget designation

HOULTON, Maine — Members of the town’s board of budget review will gather for their first meeting on Thursday evening to outline the finances for the 2019 fiscal year.

They already have decided some changes to the budget that they will make for clarification purposes, according to Jon McLaughlin, executive director of the Southern Aroostook Development Corporation.

On Oct. 28, councilors held a work session with the SADC, which works to promote the economic development in the region. The session was held to discuss their funding process.

For years, SADC officials had come before the councilors in person to ask for funding each year. But that proved risky when some councilors were “not pro-economic development,” according to McLaughlin.

Then former Town Manager Doug Hazlett added funding for SADC under an administrative line item in the municipal budget, which helped stabilize the process and also allowed the manager to ultimately control the total funding for the organization, McLaughlin said previously.

“We didn’t want the funding to be an issue each year,” he indicated. “We were doing a lot of work with the town manager and there were projects going on. The town manager decided to put it under the administrative budget.”

But in early October, councilors discussed reviewing the funding process again.

Then, during an Oct. 22 work session, McLaughlin said on Tuesday, it became clear that where SADC’s funding line item was located in the budget was the issue.

“We were being listed under administration in the municipal budget,” he explained. “But that didn’t really identify us correctly, so we talked with the council about that and they decided to give us our own line item. It pulled us out and showed exactly how much we were getting and the pool it was coming from.”

Interim Town Manager Cathy O’ Leary also confirmed Wednesday that the line item will identify SADC as a stand alone group separated from the administrative line item.

McLaughlin said that SADC has not yet been funded by the town for the upcoming fiscal year, but in the past has received $2,333 a month for services, for a total of approximately $28,000 annually.

“As far as I know, they had no issue with us as far as the amount of funding we receive,” he said Tuesday. “But nothing is solid until the board of budget review and the council makes the final decision.”

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