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Frank Bianco Jr., left, prepares barbeque during lunch break as part of a fundraiser for eighth grade class trip.
School superintendent Robert Webster responds to a question.
Road Commissioner Neil Allen responds to a question.
Chairman of the selectmen Albie Smith responds to a question. At right is selectman Mike Roy.
Ron Fowle addresses the Brooklin town meeting.
Fire Chief Sam Friend, left, poses with Michael Schneider after presenting him with the firefighter of the year award.
by Jonathan Thomas
By a margin of 58 votes, Brooklin residents approved the proposal to renovate the Brooklin town office at a total cost of $300,000. The 74-16 vote came on a written ballot after a presentation and discussion that took nearly 20 minutes.
The 20 school-related articles, which raise $1,491,071 from local taxes, were passed with limited discussion. The article requiring a written ballot to approve $437,887 in additional local funds over the state model allocation was approved by a 59 to 11 vote.
Meeting attendees thanked school board chairman Mary Cummins and superintendent Robert Webster, who are both retiring—Cummins after 24 years on the school board, and Webster after 19 years as Union 76 superintendent.
All of the municipal articles were approved, with amendments to three of them. The net result of the amendments is to increase by $1,000 the projected $2,159,636 in property taxes needed to fund the combined town/school/county budget. The projected tax increase from the previous year is 1.9 percent. (See March 29 issue of The Weekly Packet.)
The six candidates running unopposed in the April 6 municipal election were easily elected, with only a few write-ins or blank ballots for each of them. Sixty-seven ballots were cast.
Re-elected were selectman Albie Smith (60 votes, 3-year term), treasurer Tammy Andrews (62 votes, 3-year term), and road commissioner Neil Allen (59 votes, 1-year term).
Elected to open seats on the school board were Stacia Nevin (65 votes, 1-year term), Frank Bianco Sr. (59 votes, 3-year term), and Paige Morse (61 votes, 3-year term).
Peter Sprague was elected moderator prior to the Friday balloting. He later appointed George Eaton to be deputy moderator. Eaton moderated the business portion of the town meeting on Saturday.
Jon Wilson, chairman of the Town Office Renovations Committee, led the discussion on the motion to appropriate the recommended amount of $300,000. He described the work of the committee and architect Lauren Reiter as they developed the plan for improvements to the 90-year-old former school building. (See March 15 issue of The Weekly Packet.)
Wilson also addressed the issue raised at the March 20 informational meeting on the project regarding whether a new building could be built for a similar price. (See March 22 issue of The Weekly Packet.) Wilson said that follow-up information obtained by the selectmen indicated that the cost of a new building itself, not including any site work, would be about $200,000 more than the total project cost of $300,000 for the renovation.
When asked for his thoughts about the project’s approval after the meeting, chairman of the board of selectmen Albie Smith said, “The voters have been very responsive to the needs of the town, as expressed by Jon Wilson and the committee, along with the excellent work of architect Lauren Reiter.”
Earlier in the meeting, voters approved an amendment to increase by $10,000 the amount for veteran’s graves from the recommended $3,500 to $13,500 on a motion by Ron Fowle. He cited the lack of care at Civil War era graves at the Birchland Cemetery as an example.
When the article regarding the appropriation of $10,000 for the sheriff’s department’s road patrols came up near the end of the meeting, Mike Sherman read a list of people who had received speeding tickets. In the extended discussion that followed, he and others asked if there was not a better way to promote slower driving. The outcome of the discussion was a vote to reduce the appropriation to $5,000, to be used during the “summer months,” and to request the selectmen to continue their efforts to explore alternatives such as speed bumps/humps. Selectman Deborah Brewster said that the town has already reserved the use of an electric speed display sign for a period in July.
In the other budget change approved, the budgeted $5,500 amount for the Brooklin Youth Corps was reduced by $4,000 (to $1,500) after Ellen Booraem said that the additional funds would not be needed.
During one of the breaks in the meeting, Fire Chief Sam Friend presented a firefighter of the year award to Michael Schneider.