Kittery council adopts 2015 municipal budget
June 24, 2014 2:00 AM

imagesCABKG114KITTERY, Maine — Although some councilors tried to add and subtract funds from it, the Kittery Town Council on Monday night with little fanfare passed a municipal budget of $12 million for fiscal year 2015, a 1.7 percent increase over the current year’s budget.

With the school budget of $14.9 million, the total amount to be raised from taxation comes to $26.9 million.

Perhaps the most impassioned plea of the night came from Councilor Chuck Denault, who asked that the council consider reinstating the hours cut to the part-time police department animal control officer.

He said the ACO tickets parking violators, augments patrol shifts and provides backup traffic assistance when on duty. The officer also works to ensure the town’s dog owners properly license their dogs.

“It’s not fair to put another burden on patrol officers,” he said, asking the council to reinstate $15,148 to the police department budget for the ACO salary.

Councilors who spoke said they had made a pledge to keep spending at a certain level this year, and while some were sympathetic, most said it is not fair to add funds at this late stage.

Councilor Frank Dennett made several attempts to reduce funding in several areas. He wanted $20,000 removed from the town administration account, money that will be used to mount an appeal of the Federal Emergency Management Agency preliminary floodplain maps.

About 40 properties added to the floodplain in the proposed maps are considered erroneously placed there by a consulting engineer hired by the town. Some 13 property owners have pledged a total of $5,900 to help offset the cost of the appeal.

“It seems to me like two-thirds are going to take a free ride at the town’s expense,” Dennett said in making a motion to cut the funds from the budget. His motion failed.

He also failed to gain council support for his motion to reduce the amount of money paid to community service agencies.

In other business

A citizen raised the question of property assessment, referring to an article in the Portsmouth Herald (“Tax increase ‘defies logic’,” June 21) that resident Randy Price received a 43 percent property tax hike on his Gerrish Island home.

Chairman Jeff Thomson said the council has no jurisdiction over setting property assessments, but will be holding a workshop with assessor Bruce Kerns on July 28 to discuss the issue. The date is changed from July 14, when it was originally scheduled.

Councilor Judy Spiller said she was at Seapoint Beach this past weekend and most of the cars parked in resident spaces were from out of state. She asked that the police check the beaches more regularly.

Town Manager Nancy Colbert Puff and Councilor Jeff Pelletier both thanked the organizers of last Saturday’s Kittery Block Party, calling the event a significant success.