HARPSWELL — In order to avoid the potential spread of COVID-19, the town opted March 14 to postpone the business portion of Town Meeting until the June regular election.

The town did open polls for the full day in order to hold an uncontested election. Kevin Johnson received 255 votes to keep his seat on the Board of Selectmen and Alison Hawkes earned 219 to remain on the School Administrative District 75 Board of Directors. With no candidates for a School Board seat vacated by Molly Perry, Erik Lusk received the most write-in votes with 18, and the town planned to approach him about serving, according to Town Clerk Roz Knight.

Residents also voted 213-61 to raise and appropriate nearly $151,000 for Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick. Last year’s appropriation was nearly $147,000.

This year’s vote drew 282 people, compared with 395 last year, both including absentee ballots. About 230 people actually voted in person throughout the day of the town’s roughly 4,000 registered voters, Knight said.

“We took our precautions about cleaning down the voting booths and making sure everything was clean” and keeping people spaced apart, she said. “I think everybody respected what they had to do.”

Harpswell was due March 14 to adopt its municipal budget for fiscal year 2020. Its fiscal year runs January-December, and every Town Meeting includes an article authorizing spending from January-March of the following year, up to when Town Meeting is held.

Town Administrator Kristi Eiane said emergency legislation was being considered in Augusta this week that deals with multiple issues, such as what occurs when a budget hasn’t been ratified due to cancellations forced by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is my understanding that the proposed legislation will include authorization for the prior year’s approved municipal budget to be deemed the budget for the ensuing year until a final budget is approved,” Eiane said. That would prevent the town having to hold a mass gathering in order to approve a new budget while the COVID-19 threat still looms.

“I think this preemptive measure by the state would be a very good one,” she said.

The town would therefore work with 2019 numbers until a final 2020 budget is adopted. This year’s proposed $5.8 million municipal budget is up 3% over current spending and includes reserve funds to replace the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems at the Town Office and begin a two-year capital upgrade at the Recycling Center.

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