Bracing for an economic downturn, Boothbay selectmen are seeking voter approval to establish an emergency fund to combat the impact of the coronavirus. Selectmen called an emergency meeting March 17 to vote on calling a special town meeting requesting $100,000 from the municipal undesignated fund for providing economic assistance to citizens impacted by the State of Emergency resulting from the coronavirus.
The town meeting is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, the same date as a selectmen’s meeting. According to Town Manager Dan Bryer, the undesignated fund has approximately $2.3 million. Town officials don’t believe their proposal will have much opposition, but they are concerned about President Trump’s declaration March 15 limiting people’s interactions by limiting public groupings to 10 people.
Bryer has already enforced the guidelines in the municipal building. Unlike a handful of Midcoast towns – Bath, Edgecomb, Newcastle and Damariscotta – Boothbay’s town office will remain open, but the doors will be locked beginning March 18. Bryer has established an appointment-only policy of dealing with residents’ questions. Earlier this week, Boothbay requested residents process motor vehicle registrations and hunting license requests online. Selectmen will hold the special town meeting in the municipal building and discuss what happens if the voter turnout exceeds 10.
“I agree that’s a problem, but we have to do it this way because it’s the only way we can get the money,” Selectman Steve Lewis said. If a large voter turnout occurred, selectmen considered having a quick meeting outside.
If the crisis is prolonged, selectmen discussed holding another special town meeting once the $100,000 is spent.