WISCASSET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - The town of Wiscasset is taking an unusual step -- sending out layoff notices to a half-dozen town employees. The reason dates back to June, when citizens voted on the new town budget.
They passed most of the budget, but voted down the money for four different departments and the capital improvement fund. The chair of the Board of Selectmen says that under the union contract, the town has to give advance warning of layoffs, which is why the notices were sent even though the budget isn't settled yet. The jobs will still be there for three months, until another budget vote in September.
The chairman of the budget committee says he and some other residents want more cuts. Town Manager Laurie Smith says the proposed budget actually reduces town spending by around $300,000 compared to last year, but budget committee chairman Bob Blagden says those specific departments that were rejected still contain excess spending. Selectmen and the town manager say the work those people do won't go away, even if the budgets for the departments are not passed. The manager says if the budget items fail on a second vote it will create a "chaotic" situation for town government.
Selectmen and the budget committee met last week to talk about the situation, and the two boards will meet separately next week to decide whether the budget should be changed before going to another vote.