Originally published in The Weekly Packet, March 8, 2018
Sedgwick voters focus on finances at town meeting
by Anne Berleant
About 70 citizens approved municipal and school budget expenditures totaling $3,367,649, with much discussion but no controversy on March 3 at the Sedgwick Elementary School. An ordinance amending the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance and an article to allow the town to maintain control over alewives also passed.
John Higgins led the effort to restore local alewife runs in Camp Stream and Snow’s Brook. “If any of this works, and it probably will, anyone from anywhere can harvest [the alewives]” if local control is not established, he said.
Expenses of running the town infrastructure included requests such as $50,000 for tarring local roads, nearly $100,000 to pay the county tax, $105,470 to the Blue Hill-Surry Transfer Station, $208,000 for snow removal, and $170,000 for town administration. The approved municipal budget totaled $877,458, about a 2 percent increase.
Fire Chief David Carter discussed department requests totaling $82,000, plus a reserve account transfer of up to $80,000 to finish paying for a new pumper, to arrive in town later this year.
All nonprofit requests passed except a $1,500 request from the American Red Cross. “We looked at the requests and tried to triage [them],” Budget Committee Chairman Zoe Tenney said, adding that the committee was, at times, divided.
Voters sided with amounts requested by nonprofits over any lower budget committee recommendation. In denying the American Red Cross, voters noted that local organizations provided similar services.
Selectmen noted the committee’s input, absent in 2017, and thanked members for their effort.
Deanne Grimmig served as moderator, with past moderator David Anderson chiming in on rules of order and process. This helped, in particular, early in the fourth hour, when the shoreland zoning ordinance article nearly got passed over from being dropped from the warrant copy included in the town report.
The proposed ordinance, titled March 2018 Amendments to the Town of Sedgwick Shoreland Zoning Ordinance, aligned local regulations with state requirements and mostly concerned “housekeeping” revisions, Code Enforcement Office Duane Ford said.
Voters also supported school articles totaling $2,490,191, a 3.7 percent or $89,553 increase. Superintendent Chris Elkington discussed a loss of about $93,000 in Title 1 funding because of a lower-than-state-average number of students on free or reduced lunch, the formula used by the department of education. Sedgwick missed the cutoff by one student.
From 16 to 17 students attend Sedgwick Elementary School from Deer Isle and Stonington through transfers approved by Elkington or the commissioner of education, a result of Governor Le Page’s stand on school choice, Elkington said. Deer Isle-Stonington’s CSD 13 voluntarily compensates Sedgwick $5,000 for the increased cost in student materials.
The regular subsidy projected by the DOE of $139,658 is higher than in 2017-18, but Elkington warned that “there can still be multiple changes over the next three months.” If town meeting were held later, state funding would be finalized before the school budget is approved, he noted. That idea gained traction from Brian van Emmerik, who said that the change would allow citizens a chance to review a completed audit before voting on the following year’s budget.
Second Selectman, one-year: Robert Publicover, 148; Aaron Grindal, 45.
Third Selectman, three-year term: Ben Astbury, 181.
School board, two three-year terms: Susan Ford, 168; Elizabeth True, 151.
Tax collector, three-years: Elizabeth Gray, 181.