New department heads present budgets in Limestone

Theron Larkins, Special to The County
10 years ago

    LIMESTONE, Maine — The Limestone Selectpeople met on April 2 for their regular meeting, where the main topic of discussion was the 2014-15 municipal budget. The regular meeting, which is usually scheduled for 6:30 p.m. had to be pushed ahead to the earlier time slot in order for the board to hold a preparatory budget workshop.

    The workshop included some new faces of local department heads, who were asked to attend the meeting, and explain their proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Special workshop attendants on Wednesday included, Limestone Fire Dept. Chief Jon Poitras, the head of the Limestone Water and Sewer district’s Jim Leighton and Jessica Givens, the newly appointed librarian at the Robert A. Frost Memorial Library.

    Each member of their respective department took turns presenting their 2014-15 budget proposal to the board, as well as Town Manager Donna Bernier, who was instrumental in bringing everyone together for what was still a regular meeting, but one designating the majority of its time to the all important budget issue.

    When Chief Poitras presented his budget numbers to the board they didn’t see the dramatic increase they may have hoped for. It may seem unusual for board members to be disappointed by lesser expenses, but the reason for this disappointment stems from the fire department’s inability to purchase a new ladder truck for the upcoming year. Of course, this subtracted roughly $8,000 to $9,000 from the 2014-15 budget, which appears positive from the outside, but for the LFD the lack of the truck is an issue they will be forced to continue to work around.

    Another issue that arose with the LFD’s proposed budget was that of heating expenses. Chief Poitras estimated next year’s budget to be approximately $10,500 for heating expenses. However, he mentioned at the meeting that the heating bill is still pretty unpredictable, and he was tempted to adjust the number back to the originally estimated $11,000.

    “It’s just been a brutally cold winter,” said Poitras.

    Marilyn King then chimed in with the observation that this year has been like the winters of years past.

    “It’s like the winters we used to have back in the ‘60s and ‘70s,” said King.

    It’s difficult to say whether winters are getting colder, heating fuel prices are rising or if a combination of the two is simply making us feel the chill a little more, there’s no doubt people are feeling it in their bones, as well as their wallets, and the LFD is no exception.

    Givens, who was recently appointed as librarian, at the Frost Memorial Library was next to present her numbers to the board. She brought forth the issue of upgrading the library’s integrated system, which she estimates will cost roughly $2,420.

    “The integrated library system is basically the software we use for all our transactions and information for our patrons,” said Givens. “It will cost about $2,400 for the upgrade, and there will be an $800 annual subscription fee after that.”

    Givens explained that the benefits of the new system would be the upgrade itself, of course, but also the upgraded technology would allow for the library catalogue to be accessed anywhere, rather than only within the library.

    The board approved the library budget, as long as the cost of the new system doesn’t exceed $2,500.

    Budget discussions will continue at the next regular meeting on April 16, at the regular time of 6:30 p.m. at the Limestone Town Office.