Sunday, May 19, 2013
By Paul Koenig
BELGRADE -- Residents won't see as many big-ticket items on the annual Town Meeting warrant compared with last year, but in elections Friday they'll be voting in two contested races with six candidates.
The meeting warrant asks voters to put $50,000 toward a new Town Office for the second year in a row; and it requests up to $25,000 for a trailer at the transfer station, $10,000 for a town pickup truck and $4,250 for new signs throughout town.
Last year voters approved two items totaling $250,000 -- fixing the community center roof and buying property next to the center to gain a right of way to Great Pond.
Secret-ballot voting for the elective positions and first warrant articles will be held 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the Belgrade Community Center for All Seasons. The annual Town Meeting is set to begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at the center.
Overall, the proposed budget increased less than 1 percent from last year's budget, Town Manager Greg Gill said.
The Belgrade Community Center for All Seasons and the recreation programs will see the largest cuts if voters approve the proposed budget. Almost $9,000 is proposed to be cut from the center's nearly $60,000 operating budget, and $2,000 could be cut from programming.
Gill said he's fielded the most calls about the proposed trailer at the transfer station, which would provide running water, a restroom and a room where the four employees could eat.
"The main thing is we're just trying to make the workplace better for the employees," he said. "We're trying to do stuff over there gradually."
Gill said having running water in the structure will help keep the transfer station clean as well.
Ernie Rice, Richard Damren and Joseph Wayne Pelletier are vying for two open seats on the Board of Selectpersons. Rice has been on the board for three years.
Penny Morrell decided not to run after one term on the board, but said she may consider running again later.
Road Commissioner Kevin Hawes will face Jason Stevens and Maurice Childs for the position he's held for four years.
Rebecca Seel also is running unopposed for her seat on the school board.
Rice, 68, said he's returning to follow through with a few issues he has worked on, including looking into building a new Town Office, the punch-card system for the transfer station set to begin in April and the renovations to the Dalton property next to the community center.
Pelletier, a transfer station and recycling committee member, said he wants to see more businesses open in Belgrade to ease the tax burden on other property owners.
"We can't always depend on strictly the lakefront owners to pay the bulk of the taxes," he said.
Pelletier, 69, is a retired businessman who worked most recently a senior market development manager at Kimberly-Clark Corp.
Damren, a former selectman and assistant fire chief, said he wants to return to the board to help continue making Belgrade a great place to live while keeping it affordable.
"I think things are going pretty well," he said. "Just another open mind helps."
Damren, 57, is the service manager for Regional School Unit 18's transportation department and serves as an emergency medical technician for Belgrade and Oakland.
Hawes said he wants to continue as road commissioner because he wants to make sure the taxes raised for road work are spent wisely.
This year's general road maintenance budget proposes appropriating the entire $107,597 from unspent funding in last year's budget and the capital reserve account, meaning the money doesn't have to be raised from taxes.
"Just because you've got the money, doesn't mean you have to spend it," Hawes said.
Childs, who was road commissioner for 20 years before Hawes, said he thinks the road shoulders have been neglected and that the condition of the roads has suffered.
He said the pavement will break away at the edges if the shoulders aren't maintained by taking care of the gravel and ditching next to the roads.
Stevens didn't respond to phone calls for comment.
Gill said town officials tried to keep their budget tight because it's uncertain how the state's budget will affect municipalities.
He said Belgrade would lose a little more than $100,000 for the second half of the year under Gov. Paul LePage's proposed budget, which includes the suspension of the state's revenue-sharing program with municipalities.
Paul Koenig -- 621-5663