Articles allowing the retail sale, cultivation and testing of marijuana lost at the Edgecomb town meeting on Saturday, May 18. Most of the warrant was approved, totaling $4.1 million for local taxpayers after offsets. More than 80 residents attended the five-hour meeting.
In a secret ballot election Friday, May 17, attorney Chip Griffin was selected to moderate the meeting. Other results returned Ted Hugger as selectman; Barry Hathorne and Gretchen Burleigh-Johnson to the planning board; Claudia Coffin, as town clerk and treasurer; Deb Boucher, tax collector; and Scott Griffin, road commissioner. Dawn Murray was elected to the school committee.
Griffin opened the meeting by advising attendees the town warrant is a legal document and supersedes the annual report. “Stand up to be seen, speak up to be heard and sit down to be appreciated,” he told the crowd.
The first eight articles of the day passed unanimously. A lengthy discussion took place on article 11 which concerned officials’ salaries.
Tom Boudin volunteered his services as harbormaster to save the town what appeared to be a $2,000 salary. Then residents asked if there was a job description and what the $2,000 covered. Coffin said the town’s coastal waters ordinance describes the harbormaster’s duties. Hugger explained, the amount is a stipend, not a salary. The article passed.
Except the three marijuana articles the ordinance review committee submitted, most of the remaining articles passed. Voters approved the fire department’s requests for fire truck equipment, an exhaust removal system and an SCBA air filling station totaling $137,292.
Roland Abbott, fire department lieutenant, commented: “We are grateful for the townspeople who have always shown their support.”
Significant discussion took place before voters passed article 38. It asked that the boat excise tax be added to the Woodend account (currently at $219,578) to acquire a property that will give the public access to the water in Edgecomb.
Residents felt strongly about providing public access to the water, many saying Edgecomb has a greater shore border than land border and noting that the five area launch ways are in surrounding towns and three miles away.
With the article's passage, article 40 which would have placed the same monies in the harbormaster’s budget, became moot.
A proposed change to the coastal waters ordinance in prioritizing mooring locations was defeated. Voters felt the proposed language was not clear. They suggested the waterfront committee consult an attorney to revise it.
Considerable discussion preceded the vote on school budget articles. Residents expressed concerns that year-to-year increases were excessive. Dr. Keith Laser, superintendent of Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) 98 attended the meeting with other officials from the school administration and board.
Laser indicated the cost for each student at the school was $20,000. He said a significant reason for the budget increase was higher special education costs.
School officials said that overall the cost of education is increasing statewide.
Selectman Mike Smith reminded attendees, “Out of our entire town budget, we have the ability to control 18% of the total.” He referenced requirements that included state and county funding mandates.
By the meeting’s end, Edgecomb voters approved a 2019-20 budget of $4,709,321 with a total commitment of $4,102,396 after offsets.
Budget committee chairman Jack Brennan said it was “very impressive to see the turnout for the meeting and it shows the incredible energy and concern for the town. We wish more people would participate on a regular basis at the public meetings when departments are interviewed.”