Richmond Town Manager Adam Garland, left, and Town Meeting moderator William Dale watch town residents vote at the annual Town Meeting Tuesday. (Jessica Lowell / Kennebec Journal)

RICHMOND — In less than an hour and with few questions, 63 voters in this northern Sagadahoc County town on Tuesday approved the proposed budget of a little more than $2 million for the upcoming budget year. 

That pays for the costs of town government, from the expenses of running the Town Office to buying a new police cruiser to funding donation requests from nonprofit organizations and an expanded recreation program. 

This year, the Board of Selectmen and the Budget Committee differed on the level of proposed spending on several items; and in most of those, the Budget Committee’s recommendations were higher. In all, the difference amounted to about $47,000. Voters endorsed the recommendation of the Board of Selectmen, even in the instance of funding the recreation program, which at $50,000 was about $5,000 higher than the Budget Committee’s recommendation. 

Voters who gathered in the gymnasium of Richmond High School also agreed to a change in policy on the purchase of vehicles. 

At a special town meeting in 2017, voters decreed that elected officials would have to bring vehicle purchases to a special town meeting, even if taxpayers already had authorized spending town funds for that purpose. 

With the change voters approved Tuesday, the Board of Selectmen will be required to hold a public hearing on the proposed purchase to give town residents a chance to weigh in before they vote to make the purchase. 

Garland said the only vehicle that’s expected to be bought this year is the police cruiser, expected to cost $40,000 that voters had approved in an earlier warrant article. 

At the close of the meeting, Town Manager Adam Garland said the town’s property tax rate, currently $19.55 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, would not change much, if at all. 

“We don’t know what the revenue sharing from the state will be,” Garland said at the close of the meeting. “And we still have to do the townwide valuation, and we’ve seen some growth.” 

At that level, the owner of a house valued at $150,000 pays $2,933 in annual property tax, excluding any exemptions. 

The revenue to pay for that spending comes from a variety of sources such as state revenue sharing, excise tax collections and Maine Department of Transportation funding for roads. The largest single source of municipal revenue is the $1.2 million that is expected to come from Richmond property taxpayers. 

Richmond voters will head to the voting booths next week to fill an open seat on the Board of Selectmen. Ryan Chandler, who has served on the board for one term, declined to run again. Marilynn Grizkewitsch and Mark Taylor, who ran in a six-way race for two seats a year ago, are running, as is David Thompson, a former selectman who lost his re-election bid two years ago. 

This year, voting will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Town Office. 

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