Voters OK raise for town officials, back boundary research

Residents approved most of the warrant articles during Saturday’s town meeting, including a 2 percent wage and salary increase for town officials.

Selectman Elinor Multer said the 2 percent increase across the board translates into about $13,000 over last year’s salary budget, she said.

“It was a heartfelt debate, because people are not seeing raises,” Multer said. “But it ultimately passed.”

An amendment to the non-conforming-structures portion of the shoreland zoning ordinance was defeated, and residents approved the stricter version of the blasting ordinance, Multer said. She added the town also approved some affordable housing in the land-use ordinance.

Residents agreed to continue supporting the Carrying Place Assembly, Multer said. The group is researching the boundaries between Harpswell and Brunswick in an attempt to revoke a 1998 settlement in which, they say, Harpswell mistakenly gave away hundreds of acres. The town also approved $2,500 to help fund out-of-pocket expenses for further research.

“It’s a political issue at this point, but the town agrees to carry on the battle,” Multer said.

The total municipal budget figure and results from the election of selectman, tax collector, town clerk, town treasurer and MSAD 75 director were not available as of the newspaper’s deadline Saturday.

– Emma Bouthillette, Staff Writer


Fire equipment fund, social service requests take a hit

Residents approved all but two budget items for a total municipal budget of $718,284.

This budget, for Feb. 1 through Jan. 31, 2011, is about a 4 percent increase from the previous year’s budget, Selectman Rob Heard said.

“We didn’t use any of the surplus to reduce the commitment this year,” he said, noting that last year the budget used about $100,000 from the surplus fund.

Some discussion revolved around how much money to appropriate for the Kezar Falls Fire Department Equipment Fund. Heard said no amount had been indicated on the warrant, and residents settled on $10,000. Last year, the amount was $25,000, Heard said.

The two articles that did not pass were related to social services. Residents voted down a proposed $200 for the Families in Crisis Task Force and $500 for the Abused Women’s Advocacy Project. Heard said the budget committee had reviewed both services and determined they had not been used by residents.

On Friday, residents elected Chester Chapman to the Board of Selectmen, Jeffrey Cypher as road commissioner, Carol Leavitt to represent the town on the MSAD 55 Board of Directors and Dora Day, Allan Walch and Sylvia Wilson to the Planning Board. Cynthia Berube was elected to the George Towle Trust Fund and Karen Sawyer was elected to the Elijah Fox Trust Fund.

– Emma Bouthillette, Staff Writer


Voters agreeable to proposed budgets, shore zoning map

During a brief town meeting, residents passed all items to approve a municipal budget of $690,502 for this year and a school budget of $2.7 million for 2010-2011.

Dick Spear, chairman of the selectmen, said that the municipal budget represents a decrease of $21,754 from last year and the school budget is about $44,700 lower than last year’s. Savings in the municipal budget came from a reduction to the transfer station and a firetruck that the town paid off during last year’s budget cycle.

Residents also passed a referendum accepting the proposed shoreland zoning map.

During elections, Deb Wilson was voted onto the selectmen’s board and Hillary Peterson and Jennifer Andrews were both elected to the school board.

– Emma Bouthillette, Staff Writer


Residents find ways to save on trucks, transfer station

About 50 residents approved all warrant articles, with only a few amendments, during Saturday’s town meeting.

Selectman Richard Deans said the articles regarding town trucks sparked the most debate. Ultimately, residents reduced the amount requested to purchase a new plow truck from $135,000 to $128,500; the amended article was accepted by a one-vote margin, Deans said.

Residents also decided to sell the current model-year 1999 plow truck and use that money to purchase a used, one-ton pickup truck for town use, rather than appropriating $60,000, he said.

Residents also amended an article regarding the construction of a transfer station. Rather than appropriating $46,000, Deans said, they voted to use money that has been set aside for a sand and salt shed and an additional $12,000 from the general fund for the project.

During the meeting, Deans was re-elected to his position on the Board of Selectmen, Joanne Clough was elected treasurer and tax collector, Warren Packard was elected road commissioner, Sandra Bruno was re-elected as Moody Library trustee and Elizabeth Swift was re-elected to the MSAD 17 Board of Directors.

– Emma Bouthillette, Staff Writer


Town won’t buy Grange hall nor hire Web site builder

Voters kept annual expenses to run the town to a minimum but showed support for community activities and organizations.

They also decided on Saturday morning not to spend $25,000 to take ownership of Grange Hall 239.

“I know a lot of people wanted to do it, but they decided not to buy it because of the current economy and the uncertainty of not knowing what it would cost to bring it up to code and maintain it,” Selectman Daniel Harriman said.

The proposed $1.1 million budget was chopped by $71,000, Harriman said. Last year’s budget was just over a $1 million.

The audience at the Saturday morning meeting also turned down a proposal to pay $3,100 to a Web site developer to start putting town information on the Internet. Other budget categories were reduced significantly, Harriman said.

“The road commissioner reduced the amount for salt and sand by $10,000,” Harriman said. “Summer roads projects were reduced from $175,000 to $150,000.”

The town warrant included $296,536 for town expenses, but voters decided to reduce the amount of full-time employees’ raises and health insurance. They did approve $5,000 for the 255th anniversary celebration planned for 2013.

– Morning Sentinel


Question of salaries for officials stirs up vigorous discussion

Voters gathering at the Pittston Consolidated School on Saturday agreed to pay selectmen $6,000 more than last year, but questioned other administrative salary requests.

Instead of voting for town employee salaries in a lump sum as recommended by selectmen, residents opted instead to consider the items one at a time.

One resident made a motion to eliminate the $10,560 budget line for administrative secretary’s salary. That motion failed, but then the Budget Committee secretary, Jane Hubert, asked to reduce the amount by 20 percent “to bring it more in line with other personnel in town.”

Hubert said the part-time administrative secretary’s hourly wage of $15 was more than what full-time employees were getting.
Selectman Wanda Burns-Macomber took issue with the request.

“You cut us tremendously last year,” Burns-Macomber said. “And we scrambled to do what you wanted us to do. Right now the county’s budget is up $83,000 and we don’t know what the school’s going to do. We’ve come in $52,000 less this year than last year and that’s counting all what we did last year … I find it very difficult to defend the salaries for what these people do!”

Residents cut salaries dramatically last year during three special town meetings.

Voters also questioned paying part-time Town Office employees $13,500. Last year, office help received $8,000.

Burns-Macomber explained how the increase is to cover the hours the Town Office is open when employees take extensive vacations or sick time or have to do training.

The town’s three selectmen asked for $17,000, which residents on Saturday approved.

– Morning Sentinel


Budget committee’s recommendations get quick, easy pass

Maybe it was the beautiful weather outside but inside residents took just two hours to wrap up business during the annual town meeting – and barely sparred over the warrant.

A turnout of 102 voters, out of more than 600 who are registered in town, re-elected the entire Board of Selectmen and passed a wind power ordinance without a word of discussion. The meeting was fast-paced and civil.

No one challenged incumbent Selectmen Jim Bennett, Steve Fitton or Gerald Berry and the Board of Selectmen will again act as road commissioner.

Residents passed all budget committee-recommended articles with a few amendments. Voters will spend $329,669 to keep the town running this year with $82,730 coming from taxation and the rest from surplus, town Worthy Poor, excise and civic improvement accounts.

A request to fund the fire department drew the most discussion after Fire Chief Peter Quimby amended the wording of the question to read that the funds would include salaries for “fire department employees” rather than the original “fire company employees.” Quimby said making the change would avoid a possible Internal Revenue Service issue as a company and a department are two different entities. The amendment failed as did a motion to increase the funding by $2,000.

– Morning Sentinel


Voters eliminate money for raises in quick meeting

Voters approved all expenditures and policies presented at Saturday’s town business meeting in about an hour and a half.

The only debate was over the proposed 1 percent pay increase for town employees.

After the increase was questioned, moderator Richard Thompson ruled that voters could not dictate how the administration appropriation was used – selectmen make those decisions.

Thompson accepted Sheldon Bumps’ motion to reduce the $349,644 requested for administration by $2,360, Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux’s figure for the cost of the raises for town office staff.

A voice vote showed the amendment decisively defeated.

In other business, voters authorized selectmen to spend, among other things, $664,646 from excise taxes and the state highway grant for roads; $290,117 from taxes for solid waste disposal (almost $4,700 less than the 2009-10 appropriation); and up to $45,000 from the town’s undesignated fund balance for unanticipated expenses and emergencies.

The usually contentious appropriations for out-of-town charitable and social service agencies were approved with only two questions, at a total of $13,957.

Selectman Peter Foote and board Chairman Irene Belanger recognized James Lane, retiring as police officer and animal control officer after 30 years of service; firefighters and rescue personnel; and the Erskine Academy Fire Corps, a group of junior firefighters organized last fall.

– Morning Sentinel


New buildings rejected at polls; recall item OK’d

Voters at the polls Friday said no to building a $350,000 salt/sand shed and no to both proposals to construct a Town Office.

Selectmen proposed building a $3.6 million 14,680-square-foot multipurpose municipal complex that included a library, food pantry and historical center.

Residents also were given the choice of an alternative town building proposal on the ballot — a 5,000-square-foot facility that would house only the Town Office and cost $1 million.

Residents voted 659 to 270 against building a multipurpose complex. And 571 to 367 against the alternative town office proposal.

In Friday’s election, Ernest Rice and Penelope Morrell beat out two other opponents for seats on the Board of Selectmen.

Rice received 481 votes and Morrell, 477 votes. The other two people seeking those two seats were Catherine Pinkham (225 votes) and Gregory Keene (239 votes).

Kevin Hawes received 830 votes for the road commissioner position and Rebecca Seel, 823 votes for a 3-year-term on the Regional School Unit 18 Committee.

– Kennebec Journal


Voters pass reduced budget, scrap road hot topping plans

Residents approved a budget at town meeting Saturday that is $14,907 less than this year’s. The meeting at the James H. Bean School ran a little over seven hours.

The total budget was $1,309,390, of which $1,252,390 came from a surplus of $1,275,000.

Residents voted not to spend $200,000, which would have been raised from taxes, on hot topping for the Dinsmore, Quaker, Town Farm and Bartlett roads. Select Chair John Whitcomb argued spending that money would prevent possibly spending more down the road.

In the contested race for a two-year term as selectman, Robert Campbell defeated Robert Willette, 119-44. At the meeting, residents voted Roger Bedard and Robert Willette to three-year terms on the budget committee, and Peter Beckerman and Don Farnham to one-year terms as alternates.

Shawna Foye, Sidney’s treasurer, tax collector and town clerk, was given a plaque for her years of service. Foye worked part-time for Sidney from 1980-83 and has worked full-time for the town since 1984.

– Morning Sentinel


103 voters decide on $4.4. million spending plan

FARMINGTON — A small group of townspeople approved a 4.4 million budget that they hope will provide essential services with minimum increases for taxpayers.

The Saturday morning meeting drew 103 voters.

The final budget was $2,000 higher than proposed at the start of the Saturday meeting but approximately $3,000 lower than the amount approved a year ago, according to Town Manager Richard Davis.

Voters approved an amendment to the animal control ordinance and the revised shoreland zoning ordinance. Both documents will be available at the town office. They approved funding for both the American Red Cross and the Abused Women’s Advocacy Project, although the budget committee and selectmen recommended no money for either group.

On Friday, Monique Claverie was elected to fill the Mt. Blue Regional School District seat that Yvette Robinson relinquished to campaign for the District 89 house seat. 

Voters re-elected Selectman Stephan Bunker, but in a surprise upset, challenger Drew Hufnagel defeated long-serving Selectman Dennis Pike by two votes.

– Morning Sentinel


Police Athletic League issue draws interest

Residents voted to exceed the budget committee’s recommendations by $21,207 at Saturday’s town meeting at Albion Elementary School.

“That really put us about even with last year’s town meeting, all in all,” said Rick Lawrence, Albion’s administrative assistant to the selectmen.

Most of the excess spending came when residents voted to spend $13,000 for the Fairfield Police Athletic League. Lawrence said about 30 of the 100 or so residents who attended the meeting left immediately after that article.

Michelle Boivin and John Dufour were running for selectman, assessor and overseer. Boivin won all three, taking selectman and assessor each by votes of 67-17 and overseer by a 69-15 vote. At the meeting, residents elected Frank Siviski as a five-year member of the planning board and Gordon Kenyon and Kevin Morrissey as one-year associate members.

Sally Lindsay was presented the “Spirit of America” Award at the beginning of the meeting for her 20 years of service dispatching fire calls.

– Morning Sentinel

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