Boothbay heads to polls May 6 for town meeting referendum

$2,168,998 proposed municipal budget highlights 32-article warrant
Thu, 04/18/2019 - 8:45am

No residents attended the public hearing on Feb. 13 when Boothbay selectmen presented their proposed $2,168,998 municipal budget, but voters will have a final say May 6 during the annual town meeting referendum vote. This is the fifth year Boothbay has opted for a referendum vote instead of a traditional New England-style town meeting. 

From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, May 6 at the municipal building, residents will vote on five municipal races and 31 other town warrant articles. Four municipal elections are uncontested as incumbents V. Kevin Anthony, CSD trustee; W. Bruce MacDonald, CSD superintending committee; and Stanley W. Lewis, cemetery district are all seeking another three-year term. Alan Bellows runs unopposed for the Boothbay Region Water District seat vacated by Jon Lewis who decided against seeking re-election. The only contested race is for selectman. Incumbent Chuck Cunningham is seeking re-election against first-time candidate Desiree Scorcia.

After residents vote on municipal elections and choose a town meeting warden, they will decide the remaining 30 warrant articles which include the municipal budget. Proposed municipal spending is up $69,635.80 or 3.32%.  Town Manager Dan Bryer described the proposed budget as “pretty flat” and attributed the bulk of the increase to higher hydrant rental fees. Selectmen recommend $767,491.30 for the public works department which is $303,244.80 more than the current year’s. Hydrant rental went from to $287,111 to $342,228. 

Other municipal accounts either remained the same or showed a small increase. Selectmen recommend $539,847.52 for general government, $519,362.50 for public safety, $140,000 for capital improvement, $8,000 for general assistance, $141,397 for service accounts, and $52,200 for insurance. 

Selectmen also recommend voters authorize municipal contributions for 13 local non-profit organizations. Boothbay Region Ambulance Service made the largest request. BRAS services Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor and Southport and requests an annual fee based on a municipality’s population and emergency calls. In FY 19, BRAS requested $208,639 from Boothbay. For FY 20, BRAS has a $1,252,304 budget. Boothbay’s portion is $268,640. Board President Robbie Ham explained the largest increase in next year’s budget is due to two ambulance purchases and increased wages and benefits. Ham reported each ambulance costs over $200,000.

Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library is requesting a small increase over last year’s contribution. The library received $52,500 this year and requested $54,000 for the new fiscal year. Librarian Joanna Breen explained during the Feb. 13 hearing that expanding services beyond the library in the past year and employing a full staff for the first time in three years resulted in the higher request. 

Selectmen are also recommending a $10,000 municipal contribution to the Boothbay Harbor fireworks fund. Boothbay Harbor manages fireworks for the Fourth of July, Windjammer Days and Boothbay Lights celebrations.

Boothbay Region Refuse Disposal District made the second largest request. The district approved a FY20 $1,722,590 budget which is up from the current year’s $1,669,260. The district has four members — Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, Southport and Edgecomb — who are charged based upon each town’s population, property valuation and total taxable sales. Selectmen recommend voters authorize $446,308, which is up from this year’s $431,614, to pay the town’s share of district operating costs.

Boothbay Region Television is requesting the same contribution as this year’s. Selectmen recommend voters authorize $30,000. The town funds the contribution with cable franchise fees Spectrum collects and pays the town.

Selectmen recommend voter authorization for the following non-profit group requests: Boothbay Region Historical Society, $2,000; Boothbay Region District Nursing Association, $11,960; American Legion Post 36, $500; New Hope for Women; $915; The Community Center, $3,500; Boothbay Region Senior Center, $1,000; American Red Cross, $500; and Boothbay Region Community Resource Council, $6,000.

One organization is requesting less money. Boothbay contributed $25,000 last year to the Joint Economic Development Council, but the organization requested $5,000 less this year. Selectmen recommend voters authorize $20,000 to the fund for the next fiscal year. On Feb. 13, two of the town’s four JEDC representatives, Andy Hamblett and Steve Malcom, explained why the organization was making a smaller request this year after requesting $25,000 for the past two.

Our internal discussions center around whether we should morph into a different entity. "The JEDC has done a great job in getting the two towns working together, but we’re wondering if it should morph into another non-profit group to work as a conduit for these projects,” Hamblett said.

A new organization may also receive Boothbay funding for the first time. Selectmen recommend voters authorize up to $5,000 for the Boothbay Region Health Center. The patient-owned facility is a walk-in health care facility in Boothbay Harbor. The clinic opened in January 2018 with 776 patients and by February 2019 had over 1,200, according to Board President Patty Seybold. 

One article seeks voter authorization to appropriate $23,000 from the Commercial Development Omnibus Municipal Tax Increment Finance District for roundabout  landscaping. Another seeks voter approval to transfer rights-of-way acquired from the Maine Department of Transportation for roundabout construction in 2017.

Residents will also consider accepting third party conservation easement holder rights from Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens to Boothbay Region Land Trust for a 75-acre property in the Knickerbocker Lake watershed. Selectmen recommend voter approval for all warrant articles.