NEW GLOUCESTER — Residents voting for the third time on the library budget will cast their ballots next month at a new polling site because of a surge in COVID-19 cases among emergency personnel in southern Maine.

Selectmen voted Monday to move the polls for the Dec. 15 election from the Fire Department to the New Gloucester Community Building at 381 Intervale Road.

The July primary and November general elections took place in the Fire Department’s vehicle bays at 611 Lewiston Road to allow for the proper physical distancing under coronavirus prevention protocols.

Town Clerk Sharlene Myers said Monday night that she does not believe the capacity and flow of voters on Election Day will be impacted by the move.

Town Manager Brenda Fox-Howard closed the Fire/Rescue building to the public last week “out of an abundance of caution,” citing outbreaks among emergency personnel in other towns.

Many of the department’s per diem employees work for other fire departments, she said.

“New Gloucester is sitting in the middle of all these numbers going up around us,” Fox-Howard said at Monday’s Selectboard meeting.

Yarmouth’s fire chief and seven Lewiston firefighters tested positive for the virus last week. Two Buxton police officers tested positive this week, according to Chief Troy Cline.

New Gloucester’s Transfer Station and Public Works buildings were temporarily closed starting Nov. 10 after a close contact of a town employee tested positive for the virus. The Transfer Station fully reopened Nov. 17 and the Public Works building reopened on Monday.

The Fire Department will remain closed except for personnel until further notice, Fox-Howard said.

Residents will vote Dec. 15 on the $102,033 library budget, the third time this year the issue has gone before voters.

The library has been closed since mid-September after a majority of voters rejected the budget proposal for a second time. Supporters of the library said their votes were in protest to cuts to the library staff’s hours.

The latest proposal is down $4,000 from last year’s budget and funds both the library director and assistant librarian positions at 36 hours each with benefits.

The previous two proposals cut the assistant librarian’s hours to 20 hours, and then to 30 hours. Neither proposal included benefits.

When the library closed, Director Suzan Hawkins and assistant Carla McAllister were laid off. If voters approved the budget next month, they will have to go through the application process along with any other candidates if they wish to return.

Polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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