News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, March 9, 2023
Brooksville convenes for annual town meeting
Minimal discussion and a new fire station for the Cape

by Maggie White

The annual town meeting was brought to order by moderator Bob Vaughan at 7:04 p.m. on Tuesday, March 7. To the crowd assembled in the elementary school gymnasium, Vaughan first listed the results of the prior day’s election whereby 113 votes were cast by secret ballot, with no contested positions for any office.

For Selectman, Assessor and Overseer of Poor, Richard Bakeman received 108 votes. Town Clerk Amber Bakeman and Tax Collector Yvonne Redman each received 112 votes; Treasurer Freida Peasley received 113 votes; Fire Chief Matt Dow received 108 votes; Budget and Advisory Committee candidates Matthew Freedman and John Kimball received 109 and 108 votes, respectively; and Planning Board candidates Philip Wessel and Darcy Snow received 110 and 105 votes, respectively.

Lastly, Patricia Tapley received 110 votes for the three-year term on the school board. For the open two-year term on the school board, there were no candidates. Vaughan said that though there were a “number of write-ins, no person got more than one vote.” That seat remains open.

The remaining 64 municipal articles passed without contest, though a few generated questions.

Article M9, related to “updating the Town property tax valuation and maps,” by raising a recommended $12,000 for professional assistance, elicited a question as to when this might happen. Selectman John Gray said that they are still collecting money and that it won’t be this year as they are “waiting for the market to settle down.”

Article M14, pertaining to raising/appropriating $141,822 for the Blue Hill/Surry Transfer Station raised questions about prior discussions on collaborating with Brooklin and Sedgwick for a separate transfer station. Gray responded that they already came to an agreement with Blue Hill/Surry and said “it was a formula we felt was fair to all the towns.”

Article M27, for the Town to raise and appropriate $70,000 for the Highway and Bridge Maintenance account, was cited by a voter as being a big jump from the prior year. Gray explained that it had only gone up $3,000, and Selectman Hal Snow chimed in to say that the high fuel costs of last year were a factor.

Article M28, to appropriate $140,000 for the Hot-Top and Resurfacing Account, included a line item that $60,000 was coming from “LRAP/URIP,” which was explained by Snow as monies from the state due to roads that had reverted to the town for maintenance.

There was some question about the salt shed (Article M32), specifically: “When is it ever going to happen?” The response was that if the $15,000 was approved, they could move forward with a bid package.

Articles M33 and M34 pertained to the Brooksville Volunteer Fire Department; Fire Chief Mat Dow said that some of the money would be going to building a fire station on Cape Rosier (old Grange Hall location) and that this would benefit Cape residents in terms of lowered insurance. He also shared that they’ve already found a used fire truck for $17,000, which has been tested and was in use until recently in another area of the state. Said Dow, in reference to the cost of a new truck, “I thought $17,000 was a whole lot better than $400,000.”

There was some talk surrounding Article M41 pertaining to foreclosed real estate and a four-acre property on Herrick Road that was recently acquired by the town. An audience suggestion was to sell some town-acquired property in order to replenish accounts. Gray also said they have tried to work with Blue Hill Heritage Trust on a trade, but have not made much headway with the trust.

About the Peninsula Ambulance Corps, of which Vaughan is president, the moderator said that the last two years were the first that they’d ended up in the black and this was “due to the generosity of the towns collectively and individually.”

Article M58, pertaining to Lifeflight’s request for $935, elicited a comment from the audience that it seemed “like a tiny amount.” Another voter chimed in to say that it was a per-capita request; $1 per town resident is the model used by Lifeflight.

Article M64 was the only article with a motion to change as presented: it was voted that $1,000 be given to Families First as opposed to the suggested $500.

School warrant articles

School Union 93 Superintendent Reg Ruhlin presented the 15 school warrant articles, first thanking those still in attendance “for sticking with it” (the crowd had diminished by about a third at that point in the evening). Ruhlin congratulated Brooksville Elementary School Principal Cammie Fowler, who has been nominated as a National Principal of the Year.

Each meeting attendee had been given a handout generated by Ruhlin and his offices, “Guide to the Brooksville School Budget Articles,” which quantified and explained each. Questions were minimal, though one was raised as to why there was a 30 percent increase on Article S2, related to Special Education. Ruhlin said this was largely due to the transfer of an Ed Tech role to a Special Ed Tech (accounting for $31,000) and a tuition surcharge ($11,000).

The two articles that required written ballots both passed: Article S11, relating to local funds (exceeding the State’s Essential Programs and Services), with a recommendation of $989,528, received 33 yes votes, 1 no vote and 2 blank. Article S15, pertaining to the town committing $1,700 per student attending George Stevens Academy and raising and appropriating $55,100 in additional local funds, received 28 yes votes, 3 no votes and 2 blank. This amount will be added to the school budget of $2,200,050.

The meeting adjourned at 9:23 p.m.