FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — The Fort Fairfield municipal budget has been at the core of discontent between the town and its residents for most of this year, after property taxes rose in 2020 by nearly 28 percent for some.
And at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, residents will be able to see the proposed FY 2021-2022 town budget — many for the first time — and express their concerns during the town’s public budget hearing in the Community Center.
At issue is town spending, with many calling for spending reductions to the FY 2021-2022 budget to curtail the town’s property tax mill rate of $20.50 per $1,000, hoping to bring it more in line with the state mill rate average of $16.9.
Last year’s town budget was nearly $1 million over the FY 2019-2020 budget and some point to the town’s decision to provide full EMS services as a big part of the problem.
“If we had the Empire State Building we might need that ladder truck,” Kevin Pelletier, a Fort Fairfield resident and business owner said.
Despite resident requests to hold and reduce spending for the coming year, there are rumors circulating throughout the town that point to another increase over last year.
Town Councilor Robert Kilcollins said the town council rejected one version of the proposed FY 2021-2022 budget Town Manager Andrea Powers presented to them and they are waiting to see another before the public hearing.
Several residents had hoped the draft budget would have been presented at the April Town Council meeting, like in other years, but it was not.
Powers explained she had never planned to present the proposed budget at that meeting, despite a calendar posting to the contrary.
“Per our Town Charter, we have two Public Budget Hearings where the budget proposal is presented to the Council for the first time in April,” she said, adding that it would be available in a more complete form for residents at the first public hearing. “This process has been in place long before I was hired to be the town manager here. I am following that process.”
Wednesday’s hearing — 18 Community Center Drive, Fort Fairfield — will allow for public comments, Powers said.
The complete budget may be reviewed in entirety at the Town Office during regular business hours, according to the town’s public announcement regarding the public hearing. Comments and/or questions may also be directed to Andrea L Powers, Town Manager, 18 Community Center Drive, Fort Fairfield, Maine, 04742, or by phone at (207) 472-3800. Comments will be received until the Town Council meeting, May 19, 2021, at 6 p.m.