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Selected Editorials from the Editor

Suns & Shields Christian Inspirational Writings by Rachelle Hamlin

Selected editorials from Dr. Katherine Albrecht, Ed. D.


The Roberts Trap is Sprung

By:  Bill Dunne
One of the most overlooked aspects of the year just ended is the vindication of Chief Justice John Roberts -- a vindication that showed up as the national catastrophe known as ObamaCare got rolling.  Roberts may have also doomed Hillary Clinton's chance to live in the White House again... click here to read whole editorial


Fort Fairfield’s 2014-15 Town Budget Proposes 1 Mil Increase in Taxes


By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, May 14, 2014


   The first public hearing on the town of Fort Fairfield 2014-15 budget took place on April 30 at the council chambers. Town manager, Mike Bosse highlighted the proposed changes and reflected on how there was nowhere in the budget to cut without impacting services the people in town have come to expect.

   “We're down to the bone.  You can talk to the department heads and most people in town and they understand we're at the bone right now.  There's really no place else to cut,” said Bosse.

   On March 19, Bosse presented a balanced budget to the town council that maintained the current mil rate.  “Unfortunately, it didn't address a lot of the issues.  It did not include an increase for MSAD #20 or the County government.  Nor did it address any of the challenges that the community faces with our aging fleet at Public Works; the inadequate amount of staff that we have staffing our police department; and the economic development person.”

   The town of Fort Fairfield currently has five front-line snow plows which take about three hours to clean the streets and roads in Fort Fairfield.  If one of those front-line plows goes down, Public Works does have a reserve plow.  “We're at a situation right now where even the reserve plow isn't adequate.  If the reserve plow goes down we're down to four front-line plows.    If we get down to four, suddenly that three hour turn-around turns into four and a half hours.  If we had a snowstorm that's putting down a half inch to an inch an hour, in four hours we could be in real bad shape.”

The newest plow truck in the Public Works' fleet is 13 years old.  The oldest is a 1991.  Bosse suggested the Public Works' plan of converting a road tractor (a tractor/trailer rig without the trailer) could be converted to a plow truck for about $18,000 or that George Watson, Public Works director, at the consent of the town council, should attend the annual snow plow auction for State plow trucks on May 29 to acquire a second truck for between $5,000 to $20,000.

   The money to purchase one of the plow trucks would come from the reserve account which recently received an insurance claim settlement of nearly $20,000 for the two light poles that were hit and destroyed by a local inhabitant last year.  One of the light poles will not be replaced and the other, by Harvest Market will be repaired with parts on hand.

   An additional $50,000 is suggested being added to the budget for a dump truck that could be converted into a plow truck with existing equipment.

   Bosse has also suggested increasing the staffing at Fort Fairfield Police Department to its former level of four full-time officers.  “Last year we had a reduction of force and we've seen some unintended consequences because of those budget cuts.” 

   Currently, there are only three full time police officers in Fort Fairfield to provide 24 hour coverage.  “The staff is very professional, they're not complaining but you can tell it's wearing on them and it's just a matter of time before we experience burnout and the possible chance of losing one.  If you know that your shift is never going to change, you're always going to be on the night shift, and another opportunity comes along where you can be a patrolman and have half of your time or a third of your time during the day, you'd probably entertain that. That's a concern.  We have a real good force and we want to keep the personnel that we have.”

   Another unintended consequence of reducing the FFPD force to three is that Police Chief Bill Campbell is spending a lot of time being a patrolman.  “There are some times that he can't spend being the police chief when he needs to.  There are networking opportunities with other police chiefs throughout the state but he can't leave town, we've got to have coverage in town.”

   The proposal would increase the staffing by one to three full time police officers plus the police chief starting September 15.  The net added to the budget for this would be $28,506.

There has been recent call by the Quality of Place council, Fort Fairfield Chamber of Commerce and several local business to replace the vacated Marketing and Economic Development Director position formerly occupied by Bosse.  In order to keep taxes down last year, that job was not filled once he moved into the town manager position.  The net amount added to the budget would be $40,217.   

   “Collaboratively the Chamber would be kicking in some funds and we could take some money out of the reserve account for the Potato Blossom Festival.  That person would start August 1.”

   A 2% cost of living adjustment for all town employees was added to the proposed budget, a total of $6,725.

   Over the years the town has reduced spending on auxiliary programs such as ACAP, Humane Society, support to the snowmobile club, and the Red Cross, among other similar programs and services.  Financial support to the homeless shelter in Presque Isle - the only one of its kind in the area - was dropped in 2012-13.  Town council chairman, David McCrea suggested he would like to see that financial commitment of $5,000 reinstated in this year's budget if there was any way to do that since the shelter has served some people from Fort Fairfield in the past year and continually does so at no cost to the people who come there for assistance.  “There were a lot of things we were involved in.  As budgets got tighter, we had a hard time justifying tax dollars to support those things,” said McCrea.  “But, we’ve had quite a few people from this town over the past couple of years, through no fault of their own, that end up at the homeless shelter.  The homeless shelter resonates really strong in the back of my head.  This is for people who got kicked out of their house, been evicted, or they’re out of fuel oil and their house is going to be cold and they don’t have a place to go.    When somebody is right at the bottom of their life, this community should support them.”

   As it currently stands, the 2014-15 budget for Fort Fairfield with MSAD #20 add in is $4,734,211;  showing an increase of $168,110 over last year's, or about 1.15 mils.  Factoring in property valuation increases, the proposed mil rate increase will be around 1 mil. 

The Fort Fairfield town council is currently considering the budget and will hold a second hearing on it and possibly a vote on it at their May 15 town council meeting.







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