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Copyright 2014 Sun Journal
Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine)
LIVERMORE FALLS -- Selectmen voiced displeasure Tuesday night when they learned the town would need to pay a $3,000 fee to RSU 73 to use the former high school for a summer recreation program.
Selectman Kenny Jacques and other board members say they are being made to pay for the use of the school and taxpayers already pay taxes for the building and adult education. They also will now be required to pay an additional $44,000 in next year's budget as of July 1 to keep the building open. Jay and Livermore, also in the district, will pay $44,000 each, too.
Jacques called it a triple dip into taxpayers' pockets.
The town's summer program serves children from Livermore Falls, Jay and Livermore and additional towns for a fee.
Selectmen directed Town Manager Kristal Flagg to contact RSU 73 board Chairwoman Denise Rodzen to talk about the fee. They voted Tuesday to allow Flagg to sign an agreement when she is comfortable with it and gets the best deal.
The agreement now being proposed as a memorandum of understanding instead of a contract between the town and RSU 73 came under fire by selectmen in April.
Initially, there was to be restricted use of the gym. That has been changed to be use of a gym five days a week.
If the $3,000 fee is not eliminated, selectmen will need to raise the fees for children attending and cut back on other costs, including field trips, Flagg said.
"We are left with no choice. We are going to have to up the fees," she said.
Currently, families from Jay and Livermore Falls pay $35 for the first child and $20 for each additional child enrolled in the program, Flagg said. Livermore pays $65 for the first child and $35 for each additional child.
The town of Livermore does not contribute to the costs of the program as Livermore Falls and Jay do.
Families from other towns pay $110, she said.
Resident Ron Chadwick said some families will not be able to pay the increased cost.
Flagg also said it should not be just Livermore Falls' responsibility to cover the building use cost. Jay was asked to pay $15,000 but selectpersons in that town flat-funded the town's share at $12,000, the same amount paid in this year's budget.
Flagg met with representatives of the district late Monday and learned the wording of the new agreement. She hadn't had a chance to talk with summer recreation Director Sally Boivin about it.
One of the issues in the first agreement was restriction on water use for summer activities. Flagg said she did explain that the sewer bills are generated on the use of water in January, not June. But it was requested that they still be careful on the water use, she said.
Flagg said she also informed representatives that the photo copies, equipment and supplies come from the town and not RSU 73.
"I don't want to see rec not happen but this is ridiculous," Jacques said. "I guess there is not much we can do but it is wrong, very wrong."
The town learned of the initial proposed contract right before the town needed to set the budget for the town meeting referendum. There was never a contract previously.
"My thought is we should have had a meeting with the school board right from the start," Flagg said. "We need something to be done."
Selectmen Chairman Bill Demaray asked why they were not dealing with the school board instead of the adult education director and business office.
"If we had gotten this in the beginning as we asked for it, we could have worked on it," he said.
Flagg initially met with the superintendent in mid-April to try and work out an agreement.
"We certainly have to make our displeasure known," Selectman Louise Chabot said.
Resident Melissa Crocker said the town needs to fight the additional cost to use the building. She suggested the agreement not be signed until it is eliminated.
However, selectmen said for the children's sake and the two meals a day they are provided during the program, recreation needs to go on.
RSU 73 receives a grant to provide meals to children in the program.
Rodzen said after the meeting that she has not been kept informed of the new negotiations. She said she spoke to the superintendent previously and he said the $3,000 fee was negotiable.
"I know nothing about the new negotiations going on. It has not come before the board," she said.