June 6, 2011

Readfield voters consider candidates, public works, finances

BY WENDELL SCOTT, Correspondent

READFIELD -- Voters will need to gird themselves for some heavy lifting next week as they elect candidates for municipal office and decide the fate of public works department and town finances.

Polls are open 8 a.m.-8p.m. at Readfield's town office Tuesday, and then the annual Town Meeting continues Thursday at 6 p.m. at Readfield Elementary School Auditorium.

There are four candidates running for two selectmen seats.

No candidates' names will appear on the ballot for the three school board seats -- one three-year term on the RSU 38 Advisory Board, and two three-year terms on the RSU 38 Board. These elections may be decided by qualifying write-in votes.

For the first time in recent years there will also be two local referendum questions on the ballot.

Question 1 asks whether to approve the construction of a public works facility, to cost no more than $250,000 and to be funded through a bond issuance.

Question 2, brought to the ballot by citizens' initiative, asks whether the town shall abolish the Public Works Department in its entirety and sell all of its equipment.

Town Meeting continues Thursday at 6 p.m. at Readfield Elementary School Auditorium. Forty-eight warrant articles are up for consideration and on-floor vote.

Many of the forty-eight articles seek town approval for budgetary expenses, ranging from a $250 appropriation for Maranacook Lake Dam to $248,000 for winter road maintenance.

According to town manager Stefan Pakulski, the municipal articles allow for sidewalk construction and other important capital improvements, such as construction of the proposed new public works facility, to go forward without a tax increase.

Taxes could still rise as a result of the school budget, to be voted separately on June 14, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the town office.

A number of the warrant articles up for consideration on June 9 propose amendments to town ordinances, including those governing sludge, animal control, solid waste and recycling, and firearms, among others.

Article 36 asks voters whether to approve a $150,000 Community Development Block Grant application. If approved, these funds will be used to seed micro-enterprise in the town.

"It could be a long meeting." Pakulski said.

"It could be short, too," he added after a moment's reflection.

Although voter turnout in Readfield is typically high -- as much as 80 percent in a presidential year -- it can be much lower for municipal-only ballots. Last year, for example, only 95 voters out of approximately 2,100 registered voters participated in the on-floor portion of the Town Meeting.

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