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With the exception of contested races for selectman and school board, voters will by-and-large notice that the 89-article annual warrant is similar in size and scope to those of the last few years. The municipal budget of $1,754,822 shows a slight decrease, $1,184, from the current budget.
If all articles are passed as written, $774,481 of the municipal budget will be raised in the coming year from property taxes. The total budget, including the school budget (see story on this page) and the county tax, stands at $6,094,867, with $5,114,526 to be raised. This reflects a total increase of .86 percent.
The annual town meeting will begin with elections on Friday, April 1. Voters will also see two referendum ballots presenting a total of four questions. There were public hearings in March on those questions.
The referendum includes three ordinances, a Telecommunications Tower Ordinance, a Wind Energy Systems Ordinance, and a “Tobacco Free Zone” Ordinance, which would cover the AA field and the town park playground. Voters will also be asked whether they want to give the selectmen authority to “pursue action that would secure public access to Walker Pond.”
Town meeting will reconvene the following day, Saturday, April 2, at the Blue Hill Consolidated School where the remainder of the warrant will be addressed.
It will be articles 18 through 21 that are likely to get the most attention. These articles deviate from the largely routine warrant to deal with energy, a sand/salt shed and an extension of the public sewer, among other things.
Article 18 reads “Shall an ordinance entitled ‘Local Food and Community Self-governance Ordinance of 2011’ be enacted?” The ordinance seeks to exempt local farm products from licensure and inspection if the products are sold by the producer directly to the consumer.
Article 19 says “Shall an Ordinance entitled ‘The Town of Blue Hill Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Ordinance’ be enacted?
The state requires this ordinance if the townspeople wish to access an Efficiency Maine program that provides loans to finance “energy efficient” improvements to buildings.
Article 20 is “To see if the town will vote to authorize the Selectmen to enter into an agreement to design and construct a sand/salt shed and to secure financing not to exceed $500,000 to fund construction.”
This article would create a shed at the site of the existing sand pile and, according to members of the board of selectmen and the road commissioner, would save money (and the environment) in the long run. Under a program of the Maine Department of Transportation, upon completion of the shed the town would be eligible for reimbursement for a percentage of the money spent.
Article 21: “Shall the voters of the Town of Blue Hill authorize the selectmen to spend any remaining grant money from the South Street and Mines Road sewer project on a sewer extension up Greene’s Hill (Ellsworth Road) and for further improvements to the Blue Hill sewer system and Treatment Plant as approved by the Selectmen.” The article is necessary to continue to use grant money received from the Department of Agriculture.
The remainder of the municipal articles deal with appropriations to fund the town’s business through the year. The big-ticket items include $532,537 for road maintenance, improvements and sidewalks; $173,273 for the transfer station and recycling; and $185,900 for the operation of the treatment plant.
Polls on Friday, April 1, will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the town hall. Absentee ballots are available now. The meeting will reconvene the following day, Saturday, April 2, at 9 a.m. in the Blue Hill Consolidated School gymnasium. Typically the meeting breaks around 11:30 for lunch, which will be provided by the BHCS seventh grade, and reconvenes an hour later.