News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, February 7, 2019
Blue Hill Selectmen plan referendum votes for town administrator, $4M road bond
Also possible: Salt Pond property purchase

by Anne Berleant

As selectmen work to finalize town meeting warrant articles to fund everything from the fire department to July 4 fireworks, they are also drafting two referendum questions to put before voters April 5, town election day.

The first proposes adding a full-time town administrator position, to fill the gap left when Selectman Jim Schatz steps down. Schatz handled the day-to-day town business usually covered by town administrator or manager during his 24-year tenure—at the voter-approved rate for selectman of $12 an hour. The referendum will ask for $45,000 from taxation for the position’s pro-rated 2019 salary. If approved, the amount requested for selectmen’s salaries will be reduced, selectmen said at a February 1 meeting.

Selectmen also plan to put a $4 million bond to voters to bring the 35 miles of town roads up to Maine Department of Transportation standards, whether gravel or paved, so they’ll be more resilient and not as susceptible to wash outs and other weather-related damage.

“It ever seems more important with weather events being severe,” Schatz said.

The 10-year bond—the maximum term allowed for road work, Schatz said—comes with an interest rate of 2.59 percent.

A third referendum question is being considered—to purchase a portion of a Salt Pond property rejected at a heavily attended July 25, 2018 special town meeting. Then, selectmen sought $458,000 for a 3.5 acre parcel with a house and 900 feet of shoreline at 270 Salt Pond Road. If selectmen vote to add this third referendum question, it would ask for about $200,000 for a parcel that does not include the three-bedroom house. Schatz’ motion to add the referendum went unanswered but will be addressed at the February 8 meeting.