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by Bette Britt
With David Anderson at the helm as moderator, it took local voters little more than three hours to work their way through an 86-article town meeting warrant on Saturday, March 2. Of those articles, only 67 were included in the annual town report, but copies of the school budget and the 19 warrant articles to be voted were available to be inserted in the pink-covered town report.
School superintendent Mark Jenkins, Principal Don Buckingham and members of the school board were on hand to fill in details, although the budget passed with essentially no questions. One of two written ballots at town meeting authorized the school board to expend $1,914,917 for K through 12 education during the 2013-14 school year; the amount approved last year was $1,967,397. New to the Union 76 position, Jenkins thanked the town for its support—$1,903,697 to be raised from local taxation, a decrease of $12,121 (0.63 percent). His remarks were followed by Buckingham’s expressing thanks to Second Selectman Colby Pert “for his many, many years of service to the town.”
Although the school budget exceeds all other accounts, voters spent more time during town meeting plowing through the municipal warrant, with status of snow removal being one of the first questions asked. “It’s contracted,” said Pert of the $176,400 account. Warrant Article 28 was one of two that required a bit of tweaking, with transfer station request listed at $100,000, after being guessed at by selectmen based on past costs; the actual charge, duly changed and approved in the warrant is $99,629. The other change made in warrant figures was lowering the request from Blue Hill Public Library from $3,700 back to $3,600, the amount requested (and approved) in 2012.
Yearlong efforts to keep down costs were evident as warrant articles were read and responded to. Among these were requests from the fire department, with fire chief David Carter standing to thank the town for its support. “The (fire protection) budget is unchanged from previous years,” said Carter.
When it came to the tower ordinance, however, Carter expressed concern about the fire department’s having to pay charges if it wants to put up its own tower. Peter Neill, a member of the committee which drafted the ordinance, explained the process as ”very straight forward … very simple” and urged passage of the ordinance. His wish came true as hands were raised in acceptance of the Town of Sedgwick, Maine Wireless Telecommunications Facilities Ordinance.
Voters also appropriated $15,000 for Sedgwick-Brooksville Town Landing and $41,500 to hire RJF Appraisal to review and update property tax cards and related records.
Questions were asked about surplus ($83,500) and taxes in arrears ($145,750), town valuation and its effect on taxation. After a break, voters tackled requests from 20 organizations ranging from Nichols Day Camp ($2,100) to Peninsula Ambulance Corps ($14,867) and the Sedgwick Library ($500) to the YMCA ($1,750). The budget committee’s recommendation that nothing should be raised for any of them was consistently ignored.
According to town clerk Cindy Reilly, voters approved raising $730,657 for the municipal budget (plus $83,500 from surplus). When adding $1,903,697 for the school budget to the amount raised for the municipal budget, the total would be $2,634,354 (plus $83,500 surplus) for a total of $2,717,854. Reilly pointed out that this bottom line includes the $87,316 county tax, adding she’s unsure of the amount of revenue sharing and other possible bits of funding that may come in during the course of 2013-14 budget.