Dresden keeps budget flat after voters decide not to opt out of school district
DRESDEN — The city’s municipal budget will not increase this year after taxpayers voted not to opt out of Regional School Unit 2 last week.
Thirty-nine residents of Dresden attended the town hall meeting on Saturday at Pownalborough Hall to tackle a $1.16 million budget proposal that reflected an increase of $32,393 from the previous year. Much of the increase was due to a $40,000 item related to a withdrawal of RSU 2.
Section 3 was seeking to appropriate $40,000 to initiate a process to withdraw RSU 2, an idea the city has been initiating over the past year. The city established a withdrawal exploration committee, where membership in the Wiscasset School District was discussed. But since voters decided not to leave RSU 2 on Tuesday, with 177 against and 148 for, Article 3 has been omitted from the 26 mandate articles Dresden taxpayers voted on Saturday morning.
Jeffrey Pierce moderated Saturday’s meeting.
Most cities in central Maine saw their budgets increase due to rising material and benefits costs, but Dresden was able to save in some areas and was able to present a balanced budget to voters.
Daniel Swain, CEO since last December, said in the area of city wages and salaries, although the city lost a position, Swain’s salary increased by $10,000 to $63,000, and the city is paying for his health insurance and that of another worker. The cost rose to $230,575 from $187,819 last year.
Capital improvements have increased, but Swain explained that he was able to budget differently from previous years.
“The city used to keep reserve money in the operating budget, so the budgets seemed a lot bigger than what was approved at meetings, but what I did was to separate the money that we wanted to set aside in its own separate account,” he told the Kennebec Journal. “Of that $70,000 (capital improvements), we invested $25,000 for paving and whatever was left for roads and capital improvements.”
For protection accounts, the amount budgeted for the next fiscal year is $92,260 and was $146,550 last year. Road accounts were also down, with the amount budgeted for this year being $383,044, down from $510,000 last year, with Swain saying some of that went to the capital improvements area of the budget.
Saturday’s meeting focused only on the municipal budget. Additionally, Dresden must pay $2,009,757.63 for its share of the RSU 2 budget, which was approved by the five district cities on Tuesday. Dresden will also have to pay part of the Lincoln County budget.
At the polls on Tuesday, in addition to deciding not to withdraw from RSU 2, voters filled three positions.
Don Gleason beat incumbent Gerald Lilly, 175-147, for a spot on the Select Board.
Gary Bleu, who ran unopposed, won 290 votes for a seat on the budget committee, while Jeffrey Bickford ran unopposed to retain his seat on the RSU 2 board with 233 votes.
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