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Dorsey Sarcastically Congratulates Town Council, Manager for Passing a Budget That Suffers With a $1.2 Million Deficit 


Fort Fairfield Journal, July 27, 2022

Retired banker and lifelong Fort Fairfield inhabitant, David Dorsey rose to speak about the recent passage of the town's budget during the public comment period of the Fort Fairfield Town Council's July 20, 2022 meeting. “I guess I'm here tonight because you approved the budget for June 28. I'm being sarcastic here, but I want to congratulate Libby, Butler, Kilcollins and the manager for developing a $1.2 million budget deficit. It is the largest single deficit in this town in its history. This new budget is going to be 26 mils, as I understand, that's an increase of 6.5 [mils]. That's a 33% increase. So if I pay taxes on my house for $3,000, I can expect to get a $4,000 bill from you next time around. I don't know how you're going to attract people here to build anything with the tax rates going up as they are and the deficits that we have. Presque Isle just announced a reduction in their costs. If we get a reputation of a high tax town you're not going to get real estate brokers trying to move house because who wants to move [here]. Emily Smith told us about a month ago, she was thinking about putting a complex - and she's in Fort Fairfield - the system's in Fort Fairfield, but I think they're going to Presque Isle now. So, we missed out on that. Somehow you've got to address the spending; you've got to address what you're doing; your policies. I've said it before here and I'll say it again because it's mind boggling. I can't understand - I was a math major - I can't understand how we continue, on an average, with a budget deficit of a million dollars for the past four years. At the end of July, 2019, we [the town] had a $6.5 million net worth. When we close our books for this year with this $1.2 million deficit, we're going to be close to $2.6 million in net worth. We wiped out two thirds of it.”

Dorsey then referred to the uncollectible tax bill to ReEnergy, which is plaguing the town. “We still don't know, and we haven't heard from you people, what's happened to ReEnergy? Is it going to be a charge against our income? I don't know. Somebody ought to be telling us what to do. We're all looking at a half million dollars, $460+ million.” 

“So, if you do nothing, look what you've done in the last four years, the next two years at a million dollars each and ReEnergy, you'll have zero net worth. You try to go to a bank and get money; you're borrowing all you can right now. You're short of money, I know that. No bank's going to touch us.”

“I know it's tough, but somebody's got to make some tough decisions. I don't want to single out the ambulance, because they get all bent out of shape here, but I think we're probably going to have a per capita cost of maybe $470 [for the town's ambulance service], we got about 3,300 people so it's going to be around a million and a half, give or take, depending how [the town manager] makes the books on revenue coming from ambulance and from fire. Anyway, what I wanted to show you, Presque Isle is paying $76; Caribou is $99; Limestone is $100 and Caribou services Limestone. So, there must be some way that we can look to have a area type ambulance service that would help these small towns so we wouldn't have to forgo a quality service. As I said before, I'm almost 81, I've got some health problems. When I call, I want someone to pick me up fast. But I don't know if you're really looking at the hard things in its form. And you just got to do it. We need to find an inexpensive way to do this. We got to start now. So, I'm suggesting you open discussions with neighboring communities to see if there's some way, some avenue that we can piggyback or something and reduce our costs. Because if we pay like Limestone, we're going to pay three or four hundred thousand dollars a year. That's a million dollars less than what you're budgeting for. So in closing, I guess I do have a problem with the council. I don't think there's any transparency here. At some times over the past year it's been hostile and that's not for a good working relationship. It just seems some of us are trying to find answers but we're falling on deaf doors. The numbers don't come out. If you guys can't support some way to stop this bleeding and cut this million dollar loss, you really should step aside and let somebody else do it. You're not going to win any favors, I'll tell you, when you start doing that... I was really sorry to see that your budget advisory committee, I heard, was cancelled. I know your town manager wasn't in favor of it, she spoke against it at the time. But, I would think if it was done right we could have a flow of information that we wouldn't be asking questions all the time and bugging you and maybe you'd take something from somebody else.”