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Voters hold up their pink voting cards for the last time as they vote on article M61, the final article on the warrant. In foreground from left are moderator Robert Vaughan, and selectmen John Gray, Darrell Fowler, and Richard Bakeman.
Edson Blodgett addresses the moderator.
by Jonathan Thomas
By a margin of 9 votes, Brooksville voters defeated the “Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance” by referendum vote, 161 to 152, while similar ordinances were approved in recently held open town meetings in Sedgwick and Penobscot this past week. As the open town meeting session began on Tuesday evening, March 8, Moderator Robert Vaughan announced the results of the March 7 referendum and election voting. An ordinance that would have halted spraying of blueberries was also defeated, by 20 votes, 167 to 147. However, the wireless communication (cell tower) ordinance was approved, 163 to 149, a 14-vote margin.
In the one contested election, Brad Jones defeated Fred Lebel, 164-113. (See page 3 for remaining election results for unopposed candidates.)
All of the remaining warrant articles were passed, as recommended by the budget and advisory committee or the selectmen, in a session that lasted slightly more than two hours.
Following introductory remarks, the 21 school articles were approved with little or no discussion. The summary article requesting nearly $436,000 above the state’s Essential Programs and Services funding model was passed, 61-3, using the required written ballot. The total school budget was 3.84 percent above last year’s amount of $1,640,125. (See March 3 issue of The Weekly Packet.)
Following completion of the school warrant articles, the superintendent and school board members were replaced at the front table next to the moderator by selectmen John Gray, Darrell Fowler, and Richard Bakeman.
In approximately 75 minutes, Brooksville voters approved the remaining 55 warrant articles comprising the budget and other items necessary for operating the town for the coming year.
Based on preliminary figures from the budget and advisory committee, the total municipal budget, excluding education and county tax, is $715,724. That amount is down approximately $13,500, or 1.85 percent, from the current year. (See details in February 3 and March 3 issues of The Weekly Packet.)
Except for a few articles, there was little or no discussion. Budget and Advisory Committee Chairman Bob Tredwell, along with Selectman Gray, responded to questions and offered comments as needed.
Tredwell explained the need to triple the usual $10,000 addition to the fire truck reserve in anticipation of the purchase of a new truck. The only follow-up question was on the procedure for obtaining additional funding.
There were two articles in which the budget and advisory committee’s recommendations for “no funds” were challenged, but, in the end, not overcome. One of these recommendations was not to fund the coastal account with a transfer of $4,000 from watercraft excise taxes.
Prior to the reading of the articles requested by the harbor committee, the moderator read a statement from that committee stating its objection to the “no funds” recommendation.
After the moderator read article M17, Edson Blodgett (who had been making motions all evening to accept the printed recommendations following each article) moved to appropriate $4,000 to the coastal account, rather than the committee’s “no funds” recommendation. His brother Denis Blodgett, who had been playing a similar role all evening, seconded his motion.
Tredwell then moved to amend the motion back to “no funds,” explaining that the budget committee had reviewed the harbor committee’s accounts and determined that the committee already had sufficient money in reserve for its anticipated needs.
Harbormaster Sarah Cox rose to disagree, detailing what was in the account. After follow-up discussion, the motion to amend back to “no funds” was nonetheless approved, and the amended main motion was then passed.
The harbor committee’s amendment to the mooring regulation ordinance was then approved without discussion.
On the next to the last article, Edson Blodgett again went against the budget committee’s “no funds” recommendation and moved to appropriate the $3,000 requested by the Stonington Lobster Hatchery. Tredwell again responded by moving to amend the motion to restore “no funds” in the main motion. He explained that the committee had taken that position because the hatchery had not operated as promised last year, when the same amount and been appropriated and paid.
After some discussion about whether the hatchery would indeed become operational again soon, the amendment to sustain the “no funds” recommendation, and the amended main motion were both passed.
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