HOULTON, Maine — Winter, councilors noted earlier this week, has only just begun, but the ghost of last winter still haunts the municipality.
During a nearly two-hour meeting on Monday evening, councilors voted 5-0 to transfer $128,200 from the town’s surplus fund to cover budget shortfalls in eight departments — police, public works, fire, ambulance, civic center, Gentle Memorial Building, public buildings and administration.
Town Manager Doug Hazlett told the council the shortfalls were caused by last year’s gas, diesel and fuel oil prices as well as an increase in legal charges for the town.
Hazlett noted that Aroostook County was particularly hard-hit by snow removal costs as well as the high cost of diesel needed to fuel the trucks to plow and haul away snow after storms.
Last year, The County recorded nearly 200 inches of snowfall. Although winter officially began last weekend, Houlton already has recorded more than 30 inches of snow.
Hazlett noted that there is still time left before the end of the year, but he was optimistic the council would not have to dip into surplus again.
“I believe, despite the storms of the past two days, that this [$128,200] is enough to cover our needs,” said Hazlett.