Originally published in The Weekly Packet, February 18, 2021
Brooksville to hold Town Meeting by referendum
by Eli Forman
Due to the ongoing pandemic, Brooksville town officials have decided to conduct Town Meeting via referendum.
Both the town warrant articles and school warrant articles will be compiled onto a single ballot for voters to either complete and mail in or return in person to the town office.
Polling at the town office will also take place in person between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Monday, March 1, but town officials encourage absentee voting to reduce congestion.
All residents who choose to vote absentee must be a registered Brooksville voter and complete an absentee application.
Applications can be acquired by calling the town office at 326-4518 or by picking one up at the town office.
Brooksville voters will decide on a total municipal budget of $945,655 this year.
That’s less than last year’s total by approximately $6,000.
According to the Brooksville selectmen, the undesignated budget surplus was down this year, as were water craft excise taxes.
They also noted that auto excise taxes had increased.
Notable items in the budget include an article asking voters to allocate $10,000 to a Peninsula Multi Town Projects Account, “for costs attributed to the organization, research, and development of projects which in the future may benefit the Towns interested, when entered into as a group or Co-Operative rather than individually,” according to the warrant description.
The selectmen specifically point to the ongoing negotiations to find a permanent solution to the issue of solid waste disposal.
“We have continued to work jointly with Brooklin and Sedgwick to address the future of solid waste disposal in our communities….We are looking into forming an inter-local type of agreement so that in the future, neighbor Towns, may work together on projects,” wrote the selectmen in a public letter.
The selectmen will also ask voters whether the town should accept joint ownership with Sedgwick over the outlet of Walker Pond.
The current owner, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, hopes to transfer ownership of the property back to Brooksville and Sedgwick after completing a massive renovation of the site to improve alewife passage and public access.
“It is hoped that both Brooksville and Sedgwick will maintain and upkeep the outlet through the Sedgwick-Brooksville Landing Committee as they have the Landing at Walker’s Pond,” wrote the selectmen.
Climate change will also be on the agenda this year, with the selectmen asking voters for $10,000 to establish a reserve account for the Sea Level Rise and Climate Change Committee “to study the effects of sea level rise and other climate issues on the Town’s public infrastructure, including roads, bridges, culverts & landings,” according to the town budget committee.
Finally, the selectmen noted that the mill rate, created after calculating property taxes, has risen this year due to an updated appraisal of waterfront property, sale prices of which have been dropping over the last three years, according to the town’s assessors.
“In order to bring both waterfront and inland assessment within the State recommended range, waterfront property assessments were adjusted down by nearly 30 percent,” wrote the selectmen.
This has caused the mill rate to rise from .00572 to .0068.
“The decision has weighed heavily on our minds. Though mill rates do go up, we never take lightly the affect these changes will have on each of you,” wrote the selectmen regarding the increase.
On the school side of things, voters will be asked to commit $2,065,940 towards educating Brooksville’s students.
That’s approximately 2 percent up from last years total, or $43,555.
“In this COVID year, we have tried to keep new spending down,” wrote union 93 Superintendent Mark Hurvitt.
Part of the minor increase comes from an additional day of nurse services, making it two per week.
Also included is a $13,000 engineering study of the Brooksville Elementary School building.
“Aside from that, it’s a maintenance budget,” wrote Hurvitt.