WOODLAND, Maine – Woodland residents will get to vote on their town’s annual budget at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 25, in the Woodland town garage.
The town’s annual meeting has been delayed since mid-March, first due to staff shortages. Former town clerk Emily Brooks and tax collector/treasurer Christina Kidney resigned at that time, delaying the town’s annual audit.
When new clerk Bridget Coats and tax collector/treasurer Vicki Page were hired in May, both discovered unbalanced financial statements and town records not properly submitted to the state for years, further delaying work on the audit and town budget.
On Tuesday, the Select Board unanimously voted to approve the town budget articles and send them to the public vote July 25.
In the Public Works budget, salaries have increased from $152,000 last year to $173,000 proposed this year. Medicare and Social Security benefits have increased from $1,202 to $2,700.
The Select Board is projecting a $40,000 total cost for diesel fuel and $16,000 for heating oil. Those totals are based on locked-in prices of $3.06 per gallon for diesel and $2.96 per gallon price for heating oil.
Other Public Works cost categories include $4,500 for vehicle gas, $200,000 for road maintenance, $150,000 for equipment and repairs, $3,500 for tools and supplies, $80,000 to purchase road salt and sand, $25,000 for building maintenance and repairs and an $82,500 payment to Maine Municipal Bond Bank for pavement resurfacing.
Highway Foreman Paul Pelletier said that equipment and building repair costs are rising because of long-awaited purchases and repairs that need to be done this year. For instance, a new dump truck will cost $48,000 and the town garage’s overhead door needs replacement for $1,100.
“I don’t know if the dump truck we have now will pass inspection,” Pelletier said. “The overhead door is about ready to fall. It’s original to the building.”
The town budget proposals also include the following: $5,500 for building electricity, $7,500 for Select Board member stipends, $5,000 for tax assessing services, $5,000 for code enforcement services, $10,000 for legal and accounting services, $100,000 for office employee salaries, $68,400 for employee health insurance, $85,000 for medicare and Social Security benefits, $1,000 for unemployment and $1,000 for retirement benefits.
Woodland’s annual county tax payment has increased from $98,900 to $108,296 this year. The town will pay Caribou Fire & Ambulance $152,125 for coverage, the same total as last year.
Select Board Chair Harold Tardy said that both the school and town warrant articles will be presented during the annual town meeting on July 25. The school budget will be voted on first. Copies of the proposed town budget will be available prior to that meeting, he said.
School Business Manager Donna Ekman said that warrant articles for the proposed school budget are being finalized.
Tuesday’s Select Board meeting marked the first one for newest board member Kathy Ouellette. On June 29, Ouellette received 186 votes while Lisa Milliard and Ronald Tracy received 140 and five votes, respectively. Ouellette will finish former board member Timothy Browning’s term, which expires in 2025.
The next regular Select Board meeting will be held a week prior to the annual town meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 18, in the town garage, adjacent to the town office at 843 Woodland Center Road.