2017-11-17 / Front Page

Port begins the budget process

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNKPORT — As Kennebunkport launches its budgeting process for the next fiscal year, selectmen have weighed in with two new projects they’d like to see incorporated into the annual spending plan to be presented to them in February by Town Manager Laurie Smith.

“Some departments are already in the midst of their budget reviews, so it’s helpful to know if there are some new items that you are looking for,” Smith told the board at its most recent meeting, Nov. 9.

Selectmen Ed Hutchins said he’d like to see the town institute a year-round weekly pickup of recyclable items, a service he noted is now only available in the Goose Rocks area and only during the summer.

“I do think that’s something that’s worth spending the money for,” he said. “I hear that from a lot of my constituents, that they would like to see that. At least let’s throw it up the flagpole and see who salutes this year.”

Hutchins said the service has been studied before, with a $35,000 price tag attached to implementation. However, Selectman Stuart Barwise voiced reservations.

“One of my fears with that is I worry that, historically, we’ve had some issues where recycling is just another version of trash removal,” he said. “We had somebody dig into it who found it all ends up in the same place, simply going to the same landfill.

“I’d like to think that if we do it, that it’s not just a feel good measure, that it’s actually doing what it’s intended to do and that it’s real,” Barwise said. “If it’s legitimate and it’s real, then I’m a huge supporter.”

The only specific guidance on new directions offered by selectmen appeared to be born of recent suffering still fresh in everyone’s mind.

“I’d like to see us do a little more tree trimming along the roadways,” Selectman Allen Daggett said.

“What, were you without power for a few days, Al?” Hutchins joked.

Following the powerful wind storm that buffeted the area Oct. 29-30, some areas of town were without power for as long as a week.

“This was an unusual situation,” board chairman Patrick Briggs said. “Obviously, it had an impact far and wide. I think we’ll get back on track, but I agree with what you’re saying.”

Selectmen also unanimously adopted a timeline for this year’s budget process. As scheduled, the first deadline is for area social service agencies to have their funding requests submitted to the town by Nov. 17. The town’s 12-person budget board will review those requests Nov. 30, with recommendations due to Smith by Jan. 5, the same day 2018-2019 budget drafts are due to her from all departments, committees and outside agencies.

After Smith circulates her draft budget Feb. 23, selectmen and budget board members will gather March 1 to hear presentations from all department heads on their operating budget needs, and on March 8, capital investment requests. That will be followed on March 15 by presentations on funding requests from all committees, outside agencies, and area social services.

Selectmen will then meet March 22 to vote on their recommendations. The budget board will review those potential edits and vote on recommendations of their own March 29.

A “last chance” to make any final changes will be had in a joint meeting of selectmen and budget board members April 5, “if necessary.”

All budget meetings will begin at 6 p.m. at the Village Fire Station on North Street.

Selectmen are slated to sign the budget warrant at their regular meeting on April 12, or possible as late as April 26 if there are complications along the way. The town report will be distributed to residents starting May 29. Following annual elections June 12, the annual town meeting to vote on the various budget articles will be held on Saturday, June 16, and Kennebunkport Consolidated School.

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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