Limestone to reconfigure budget committee, explore future of rec department

12 months ago

LIMESTONE, Maine — Limestone’s town budget committee will soon become open to new members.

On Wednesday, the town’s Select Board agreed to decrease the number of budget committee members from 10 to seven and require a quorum of four in order for meetings to be held. The changes will be reflected in new bylaws for the committee.

Typically, the budget committee meets with the town manager from December to May, leading up to the annual town meeting in June. The committee can ask questions and seek clarification about the proposed budget before making their recommendations. 

The Select Board has final approval of the proposed budget, but the budget committee’s recommendations are included with the budget warrant articles.

Currently, the budget committee bylaws state that the committee must elect officers between the annual town meeting and Sept. 1. Five of its 10 members must be present in order to have a quorum.

But in the past year, neither of those things have happened, said Select Board Vice Chair Chris Durepo.

“What exactly are our expectations for this committee?” Durepo said. “That might be the one thing we haven’t defined [in the new bylaws].”

The Select Board will also need to appoint new members. Five people listed as members actually have expired terms now, said Town Clerk Kelly Johndro.

In other business, the Select Board discussed how the town might revive its recreation department.

Recreation has taken some of the largest budget decreases in the past few years. In June, residents voted against the town’s proposed $106,426 recreation budget, decreasing it back to the $62,000 approved at the 2022 annual town meeting.

Town officials had proposed a higher budget in hopes of hiring a full-time director. That position has been vacant for nearly a year. Efforts to hire a part-time director have not panned out, leaving the all-volunteer recreation committee in charge of programs.

Select Board member Irma Labreck suggested that the town still use $40,000 to hire a full-time recreation director, but use the remaining $22,000 for other program necessities.

Limestone School Committee member Grace O’Neal wondered if the town and school could collaborate on after-school programs. The school has received a grant to fund its own after-school program.

Town Manager Alvin Lam said he has spoken to Principal Ben Lothrop. The school’s grant is not the type that would allow the town and school to collaborate on hiring a full-time director, he said.

Lam said he would share a new job description with the Select Board for a full-time director. He also suggested an alternative.

“Kelly [Johndro] and I would be willing to hire an entry-level clerk to cover the town office so Kelly can jump into the rec director role,” Lam said. “If we don’t find a new director.”

The Select Board agreed to explore potential grants that could help the town fund school vacation programs or travel stipends to send people to other towns’ programs.

The board also voted unanimously to cancel a special town meeting that would have been held Sept. 6 to vote on proposed $1 million bonds for road repairs and a new highway department garage. 

Residents had tabled voting on those bonds until the town could find more information on grant opportunities. But the town has now passed the deadline for applying for municipal bonds, making the special meeting unnecessary, said Select Board Chairperson Randy Brooker.

The next regular Select Board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16, in the town office at 93 Main St.