Although the residents of Edgecomb approved a flat-line budget for Fiscal Year 2015 at their annual town meeting May 17, a two-year tax commitment error will result in an increase of two mills in taxes for the upcoming year.

With the exception of a $2,339 request to support LCTV, Edgecomb residents approved all articles on this year's town meeting warrant in just over three hours.

Although residents voted to take the total tax commitment error shortfall amount of $437,904.77 from surplus, Selectmen Stuart Smith told Edgecomb taxpayers they will likely see their mill rate increase from .01315 to .01515 per $1,000 dollars of valuation.

Smith said the mill rate increase will be necessary because of the need to raise nearly $230,000 never recognized as town expenditures for FY 2014 and the lack of surplus funds available to help reduce taxes.

The town's auditor Fred Brewer discovered the error while working on the FY2013 audit. Brewer told selectmen in March the total money approved by voters was not raised in taxes.

In an explanation of the error to Edgecomb residents Smith wrote: "Fred Brewer, the accountant handling our audit, found that our commitment two years ago did not have enough money designated under the Municipal Expenditures line. Under further examination he discovered that the contract assessor did not include the expenditures for snow plowing, animal shelter, and the state aid to our roads."

Smith said the assessing firm of John O'Donnell and Associates will continue to do the assessing as well as the commitment letter. The firm has agreed to pay the town's auditor to take a look at the commitment letter before it's signed off by the selectmen.

David Nutt expressed concern the Board of Selectmen didn't check the numbers presented by John O'Donnell and Associates and therefore needed to take some of the responsibility.

"You took O'Donnell at face value. It's rather irresponsible isn't it?" Nutt said.

"Yes," Smith said.

Following the lengthy discussion on taking the shortfall money from surplus, Moderator Chip Griffin complimented Edgecomb residents for coming together as a town and asking good questions.

"This illustrates the importance of town meeting," Griffin said.

Edgcomb resident and Wiscasset Public Library Trustee Tom Boudin made a motion to fund the entire $9,677 request from the Wiscasset Public Library and the $4,000 request from the Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library. Edgecomb's budget committee recommended only $2,000 for each library.

Boudin said the Wiscasset Public Library offers computer access, movie rentals and research capabilities free of charge to Edgcomb residents.

"All these things cost money," Boudin said.

"We just don't have the funds this year," said Selectman Jack Sarmanian.

After Boudin's amendment to Article 14 failed, another motion to fund the libraries at last year's levels, which was $4,000 for each library, was accepted.

Edgecomb voters supported the recommendation of the budget committee to not fund the $2,339 request to support the operations of LCTV.

Budget Committee member Chet Clark told residents the committee made the recommendation based the lack of documentation showing how it's providing a benefit to Edgecomb residents.

"We try to get a sense of what we are spending money for," Clark said.

Clark said organizations are invited to meetings during the budget process to present requests for funding and answer questions.

LCTV Station Manager Mary Ellen Crowley said the station provides programming and educational opportunities to Edgecomb residents and suggested the town could conduct a phone survey to determine how many residents of Edgecomb use LCTV.

Crowley also said she has never refused the opportunity to attend a budget committee meeting. Crowley said this year she was told by a town official, if the budget committee wanted to talk to her, they would contact her.

Fort Road resident Ron Cary suggested the town could save money in the budget by eliminating sanding the majority of Edgecomb roads during the winter and recommended reducing the town's snowplowing contract of $213,093 by $50,000. The motion to amend the article received a second, but no support from Edgecomb voters.

"It's a waste of time, money, and material," Cary said.

Cary suggested the town could get by with just sanding McKay, Eddy, and Fort Roads and areas of steep inclines.

Edgecomb's Fire Chief Roy Potter reported his department responded to three roll-overs last winter due to slippery roads.

"We need to maintain town roads for public safety," Potter said.

Not sanding the roads jeopardizes people's lives, the town's equipment and opens the town up for liability claims, Potter said.

Selectman Jessica Chubbuck said, "I wouldn't support anything that makes roads less safe."

Edgecomb voters took less than 10 minutes to approve all 11 educational cost centers representing a total school budget of $2,480,215, which represents 69.4 percent of the town's total budget.

Superintendent AOS 98 Superintendent Eileen King acknowledged Edgcomb

Eddy School's Principal Lisa Clark and her staff for earning an A on the state's Department of Education report card. King said not only did the school earn an A, but also raised its score over last year.

"Thanks to the taxpayers for their support of education," King said.

Elections
According to Town Clerk Claudia Coffin 33 votes were cast in the municipal elections on May 16.

Incumbent Jack Sarmanian received 28 votes and was elected for another a three-year term on the Board of Selectmen. In the other uncontested races: Town Clerk/Treasurer, Claudia Coffin received 32 voters; Tax Collector Deb Boucher, 31; School Board member Cassandra Fabiano, 31; and Road Commissioner Scott Griffin, 32.

David Nutt received 20 write-in votes and was elected to fill the three-year term on the planning board.