Media Archive

Brownville to vote March 15

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 166, No. 10, March 10, 2004

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

BROWNVILLE Townspeople will vote Monday on Brownville's participation in a proposed eastern Piscataquis County industrial park and creation of a municipal assessing department, in addition to the usual fare the 2004 budget and municipal elections.

According to Brownville Town Manager Sophie Wilson, the board of selectmen recommended a budget of $749,000 for municipal operations while the budget committee's recommendation is $764,000.

The difference is primarily found in the accounts for the fire department, highway equipment and administrative capital reserves.

In addition, the budget committee voted to appropriate$800 in the social services account, split equally among four agencies Penquis CAP, Womancare, Eastern Agency on Aging and Pine Tree Hospice. The board of selectmen voted to not appropriate donations to the agencies.

According to the town manager, depending on how the individual warrant articles are supported at town meeting, the tax rate could vary from $23.20 to $23.67 per $1,000 valuation. This is a tentative figure, however, and is subject to change according to the town's SAD 41 assessment and the final municipal valuation.

Last year's preliminary tax rate was set at $23.67 mills, which dropped to $23.28 after valuation, for instance, Wilson explained.

An increase of about $5,000 in the budget is attributed to an additional pay week in 2004. Fifty-two weeks times seven days a week equals only 364 days, she explained. As there are 365 days in a year, every seven years, the town must budget for an additional pay week, according to Wilson.

The budget includes a new assessing department, at a cost of $25,415. According to the town manager, Brownville had previously contracted out its assessing services. Selectmen voted recently to bring the department back in-house. ''A lot of our records were off-site in Parkman," said Wilson. "The board decided it wanted to have a department more onsite and more responsive to the needs of the community."

Wilson said the proposed budget for 2004 includes start-up costs for a new computer, desk and computer software. On an annual basis, she estimated the costs to hover around $11,000. The town is currently contracting with the Penobscot Valley Council of Governments for an assessor, at a fee of approximately $7,900 a year. That fee is subject to change, however, depending on the number of hours worked, Wilson said.

Residents also will be asked to support the setting aside of $25,000 from fund balance in a reserve account to be used to "leverage $1.1 million in federal, state and private funding for economic development purposes related to the Eastern Piscataquis Industrial Park." The funds would not be committed to the project until there is approval to the full project at yet another town meeting (See related story).

Voters also will consider whether to join the Penquis Pine Tree Development Zone program. The warrant article requests permission to place the 198-acre Rail Junction lot (adjacent to Route 11 and Railroad Ave. in Brownville Junction) within the zone, and asks residents to authorize the Piscataquis Properties Corp. to direct the marketing and administrative activities for the town.

Residents also will be asked to elect a selectman, a member of the SAD 41 Board of Directors, and six members to the budget committee. Walter Durant is running for the board of selectmen, filling the post formerly held by Bob Hamlin. There are no candidates for the SAD 41 board. Two people have filed nomination papers for the budget committee posts: Linda Cobum and Allana Washbum.

The annual town meeting starts at 7 p.m. Monday at the Brownville Junction Alumni Building. Polls are open from noon to 5 p.m. at the same location.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.