News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, February 21, 2019
Water access on Brooksville town meeting agenda

by Rich Hewitt

Expanding water access from South Wharf Road will once again be on the agenda when residents gather for the annual town meeting next month.

The meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, at the school where voters will act on 87 school and town warrant articles. Voting for municipal officers will take place on Monday, March 4. The polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the public safety building.

The selectmen will ask voters to spend $10,000 for improvements to South Wharf Road which would include creation of parking spaces on the west side of the road. Voters last year authorized the town to survey the road after research by Kathleen Caldwell showed that in the 1700s, that road was originally laid out as a three-rod road. With that survey now in hand, the selectmen said they feel comfortable moving forward with improvements. Selectman Hal Snow pointed out that a three-rod road will provide the town with 49.5 feet of road to work with, far more than the existing 16-18 foot road to the water.

“That’s not a right-of-way,” Snow said. “That’s town owned. That’s enough to do some parking on one side and still have the road we have now to get there.”

There is a hitch, however.

The underwater phone cable from Castine makes landfall right at the water access and is buried underneath the road. First Selectman John Gray said they have tried to work with Consolidated Communication to discuss how to protect the cable and still make the improvements they want. So far, he said, those efforts have been unsuccessful.

Snow said the town would like to have the phone company dig up and move the cable. He said, so far, they have not been able to determine that the town ever authorized the placement of the phone cable there.

Voters also will be asked to authorize the selectmen to sell a parcel on the Young’s Point Road that was donated years ago by Sumner Lymburner. Researching that 2.43-acre property, the selectmen discovered that the town does not have access to the lot from the town road. Gray explained that last year, the town acquired a 2.3-acre lot adjacent to the Lymburner lot through foreclosure. The selectmen now propose to combine the two lots, which will provide access to the Lymburner lot, and then offer them both for sale. Although voters at town meeting regularly authorize selectmen to sell tax-acquired property, Gray noted that the voters had specifically voted to accept the Lymburner property and should vote formally to sell it.

The proposed municipal budget totals $978,084, not including the anticipated county tax of $205,000. That’s an increase of $67,043 or about 7.3 percent. Among the largest increases is an $18,000 allocation for the comprehensive planning committee. The committee began work without a formal budget, according to Gray, but it will begin work in earnest this year.

“We’ve got to get cracking on that,” he said.

Most of the $18,000 will pay the Hancock County Planning Commission which is assisting the committee in its efforts.

The budget also includes $23,500 to pay off the balance owed on new air packs purchased by the Brooksville Volunteer Fire Department last year. There’s also a large increase in the winter roads account—up $45,000 this year. Part of that increase is due to a $15,500 shortfall in 2018, but Gray said the town also expects to lose state funds from the Park Fee Sharing Fund because of a policy change at the state level.

There is also a $10,000 increase in the public service building account which reflects plans to replace a crumbling concrete wall at the town office building. The administration account also is up $10,000 reflecting salary increases in response to increases in the state minimum wage, according to Gray. Those increases are offset somewhat by decreases in other accounts, most notable in the op out insurance account which is down by $10,000 this year.

If voters approve all the municipal articles and the school articles as proposed, selectmen anticipate a slight increase in the mill rate from the current level of $5.59 for every $1,000 of valuation to between $5.80 and $5.90. That will be the first tax rate increase since 2015, according to the selectmen.

Municipal budget: $978,084, not including the anticipated county tax of $205,000

Increase: $67,043 or about 7.3 percent

Warrant articles: 87

Voting: Monday, March 4. The polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the public safety building

Town Meeting: Tuesday, March 5, 7 p.m. at the school