ARROWSIC — Arrowsic residents will vote on the town’s proposed $968,785 municipal budget at the annual town meeting Saturday, but town officials don’t know what the tax rate will be if the budget is passed.

Arrowsic’s current tax rate is 9.4%.

The proposed budget is $48,761 higher than last year. The new, $38.2 million Regional School Unit 1 budget, approved by district voters on Tuesday, is responsible for $35,372 of that increase, according to Select Board Chair Sukey Heard.

According to RSU 1 Business Manager Debra Clark, the new school budget alone will raise taxes 3.25% in Arrowsic. For a home valued at $200,000 in Arrowsic, that will mean a $41.32 tax bill hike.

The new RSU 1 spending plan is up 12.78%, which Superintendent Patrick Manuel said is due to the first principal payment on the local share of the new Morse High School and Bath Regional Career and Technical Center, which is now under construction. Without the bond payment, the increase would have been 3.11%.

Heard said the remaining $13,389 budget increase is due to stipend increases for some town employees, and covers the cost to place the town’s 5-year-old tax maps, which should be replaced annually.

She said the budget increases compensate for a few regular contract cost increases for various public works jobs, such as solid waste and snow removal.

“We don’t have a public works department so we have to contract that out,” said Heard.

Mary McDonald, Arrowsic treasurer, could not be reached Thursday.

Select board race, broadband ordinance

Arrowsic voters also will elect a new selectman to replace Heard, who isn’t running for re-election after serving on the board for 18 years. Planning Board Chair Will Neilson and Michael McMahon are running for the seat.

Town officials also are asking voters to approve an ordinance that would create the Arrowsic Broadband Authority, giving the town full ownership and control over its high-speed broadband internet, which it’s working to create with help from the USDA.

In January Arrowsic received a $1.2 million investment from the USDA ReConnect Program designed to fund high-speed internet to rural communities. The investment, split between and loan and a grant, will connect all Arrowsic residents, totaling 237 households, 20 businesses and four farms.

The Arrowsic Broadband Authority would be responsible for hiring a firm that will build the broadband system. The authority also would oversee the running of the system once it’s built and supplying the town with fast, dependable internet.

“The pandemic has forced us to become increasingly dependent on electronic connections,” selectmen wrote in a July newsletter to residents. “We have found during meetings and information sharing that the service we receive is poor. We are lucky that we received one of the first awards under the USDA ReConnect program.

The meeting will be held at 9:15 a.m. Saturday at the fire station. Attendees will be split between inside and outside the station to accommodate for coronavirus gathering restrictions. Facemasks will be required.

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