On March 7, 2017, the Town Council voted to amend SEC. 86.1, Fund Balance Policy, to reflect a new way of computing the 12.5 % requirement. This 12.5% is supposed to ensure the town has sufficient funds to operating in emergency situations. However, any excess over the 12.5% can be used for other needs with the approval of the Town Council. This new creative accounting policy freed up approximately $1.11 million dollars.
So, what is the Town going to use these funds for? According to the Town Manager, Diane Barnes, at the March 21, 2017 Town Council meeting, these funds will be used to cover excessive spending by the Town Council. Mrs. Barnes announced a 19.2% increase in this year’s budget over last years. What the Town Manager is doing is trying to keep taxes down by using the excess unassigned fund balance. In other words, she is bailing out or rewarding excess spending. This Town Council has no clue how to manage money.
The ONLY way to reduce taxes is to either increase revenues or REDUCE spending. That is a fact! The Town Council refused to reduce spending by voting to keep the Lisbon Communication Center open instead of having the Androscoggin County Dispatch performing dispatch for the town. The actual cost saving was $191.095.00 before the town started to distort the amount to make it look less than it was. After everything is done; this figure is closer to $250,000.00.
In the Town Manager’s 2017-2018 budget is an upgrade to the communication center at a cost to the taxpayers of $33,500.00. Had the Town Council closed the Lisbon Communication Center there would be no need for this upgrade. These Councilors should have had this information at the time they voted on the Lisbon Communication Center. The Town Manager, Diane Barnes, must have had this information all along. I also mentioned this to the Town Council on numerous times so it is not like they had no clue.
The unassigned fund balance excess should never be used to reduce taxes. You reduce taxes by increasing revenue or reduce spending. Mrs. Barnes is increasing the town’s operating cost by 19.2% this year but what about next year? Where is she going to get the funding to cover this 19.2 and whatever it will be next year?
This is caused by the people not paying attention to what is going on and doing stupid things like reelecting a Councilor whom has a history of wasting our money and who is a member of the “Good Old Boys” network. Chris Brunelle was one of the driving forces behind the fight with the School over their budget and again with keeping the Lisbon Communication Center open which cost the community a lot. People need to check their voting records before they vote for these individuals.
Now is the time to stop this madness before the Town Council approves the 2017-2018 budgets. Call your Councilors or attend the meeting and let you views known.