It is once again that time of year to start the budget process for both the School and Municipal side of the town. This is always an interesting time of year. The residents get to sit back and see what our elected officials determine to be important and what is not. It also is a time in which the people find out how much their taxes are going to be for next year.
Last year, Councilors Pesce, Bickford, Metivier, Brunelle and Crafts decided to cut the School budget by at least $600,000.00. This caused a massive problem for the School Department and cost the taxpayers a great deal of money in legal fees. It would appear that Councilor Metivier is going to challenge the School Department budget again; so get ready for an another very costly year.
I have very little knowledge about the School side of the town’s budget but I do have what I consider a good understanding of the Municipal side. So, I will only talk about the Municipal side. Thanks to the previous leadership of the town, Lisbon is a haven for individuals with little or no credentials to be place in positions with outrageous salaries. The major two individuals are Ryan Leighton, Director of Public Works and Superintendent of Sewer and then Fire Chief Sean Galipeau. Ryan Leighton combined salary is over $80,000.00 and the last time I checked he had a Grade 2 level for the Sewer Department which requires by the state that the individual be at least a Grade 4 to operate the facility. The Fire Chief is supposed to have a bare minimum of Associate Degree in Public Safety and he has been working on his Associates for twelve years. The town is paying him roughly $67,413.00 according to last year’s budget.
Former Councilors Pesce and Garrison was looking into ways to save taxpayer money and determined there was a cost saving of approximately $199,000.00 by closing the Lisbon Communication Center. The Town Manager estimated the savings at roughly $163,000.00. I determine it to be closer to $250,000.00. Whichever number you want to choose, it would be a significant savings to the people. So where do we stand on this issue? The Sheriff and County would like the emergency services for Lisbon to be by the Androscoggin County Dispatch. However, this initiative has been stopped by Councilors Pesce, Bickford, Metivier, Brunelle and Crafts. According to Chairman Bickford, the question is if the people want to close the Lisbon Communication Center will appear on the November ballot. I was under the impression that we elected these officials to make this type determination so we could save money now. Also, there will be no facts put out to the people so once again the people will be voting without the benefit of ALL the facts.
Now, we have one Administrative Assistant which receives roughly $10,000.00 tax dollars more than any other Administrative Assistant in the town. This same individual Job Description is so outdated it is not funny. By the way, the Ethnic Panel determined that this individual was not doing what is in her Job Description but the Department Head never rewrote the Job Description to coincide with the duties she is actually doing.
It appears that Lisbon’s salary structure is NOT determined by the duties you are performing but by what previous leadership determined they wanted you to have. Lisbon has individual’s receiving large salaries and they no credentials to support these salaries.
There are plenty of reductions that can make on the Municipal side before anyone does a hatch job on the School Department. I agree the School Department needs to reduce its operating cost but I trust the School Committee and Richard Green make the cuts.