News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, April 25, 2013
Surry voters OK town meeting warrant in less than two hours

Surry voters

As town meeting got under way, Surry voters signal their support for the 2013-14 school budget.

Photo by Bette Britt Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Bette Britt

Elected town meeting moderator before the polls opened on Friday, April 19, Anthony Beardsley came to town meeting on Monday, April 22, with high hopes the 63-article warrant could be covered by a reasonable hour. Whether it was his experience after several years as moderator, the smaller number of articles or public acceptance—the warrant contained almost nothing that hadn’t been explained at SCIA informational meetings earlier in the month—the actual running time of the 2013 town meeting ended within two hours. A smiling taxpayer indicated there was still time to get home before the Red Sox game was over.

Voters accepted warrant articles 3-5 without questioning figures that included $500 per year raises for each selectmen to $4,000 for the chairman, $3,500 for each of the other two; there was no increase in pay for them as assessors, $1,500 for the chairman, $1,000 for the other two; and a $1,250 per year stipend for their administration of General Assistance, with $750 for the chairman and $250 for the other two selectmen. Funding for the raises was covered under WA 6, when voters approved $241,227 for Administration of the Town, including administrative costs ($192,247), assessing costs ($23,130) and municipal building operations ($25,850).

It was then time for consideration of the 2013-14 school budget, with Union 93 Supterintendent Mark Hurvitt ready to speak about a school budget that has shown a decrease over each of the past four years. At $2,256,395, the decrease is $48,624 or 2.11 percent, he told voters. Fielding questions, the superintendent indicated Surry school population is growing but, because it’s a small school, the per-pupil cost of $14,833 is higher than Ellsworth, ($9,675) but lower than Brooklin ($16,017). This is known as “economy of scale,” said Hurvitt, noting that Surry gets a break at GSA by having more high school students than smaller schools. Local school funding for K-12 is driven by the Essential Programs and Services Funding Act (EPS), with Surry’s minimum contribution for 2013 -14 being $1,626,120; because the proposed budget was over that EPS acceptable amount by $84,810, there had to be a written ballot to indicate the town agreed to raise/appropriate additional funds. This was approved by 52-9, but only after discussion about taking more from the carry over. After that, approval of WA 20, the $2,256,395 proposed 2013-14 budget, passed by a show of hands.

Elementary school Principal Cathy Lewis spoke briefly and, after words of praise for the school, its staff and students, introduced Tom Engel, President of the Surry Garden Club. Together they told voters of a need for gardening tools. Terming the school’s garden program “dynamic and special,” Engel urged those present to donate shovels, hoes, rakes, “things kicking around the house” for use by students at the school.

Then it was back to the remainder of town meeting, the warrant articles that dealt with municipal government, many drawing questions and receiving answers, usually from selectmen but sometimes, as with two ambulance services and two public libraries, from involved professionals or board members. Voters were curious but polite; they stayed until WA 63, a question about alewives, had been discussed and voted. They had passed a $3,254.086 municipal budget, which is down 1.2 percent, in less than two hours, then they helped fold and stack chairs until selectmen gave the signal to go home.

Election results from Friday, April 19

For Selectman/Assessor/GA


*Dale Sprinkle 194

For School Board, three-year term

(two seats)

*Donald Driscoll 158

*Monica Hardy-Torrey (write-in) 105

Valerie Moon 40

Daniel Sullivan 82

For School Board, one-year term (one seat)

*Patricia Hollenberg 184

*Indicates election winner

Bill Matlock and Steve Bemiss

Selectmen Bill Matlock (left) and Steve Bemiss checking total fund balances in the town report.

Principal Cathy Lewis with Tom Engels

Surry Elementary School Principal Cathy Lewis enthuses about the school, its students, staff and special programs, with Tom Engels, president of the Surry Garden Club, sharing the spotlight for its work with student gardeners.

Surry voters

As town meeting got under way, Surry voters signal their support for the 2013-14 school budget.

Photo by Bette Britt