NEWPORT, Maine — The annual town meeting will be held at 10 a.m. today at the Sebasticook Valley Community Center on North Street.
The $2.3 million budget proposal for 2009 is up $49,954 over last year, about a 2 percent increase. Town officials have said it is a fair budget that will not increase taxes.
Town Manager James Ricker recently reported that the town ended 2008 in solid financial shape.
“For the first time in Newport’s history, we ended the year with a fund balance of more than $1 million,” Ricker told selectmen at a recent board meeting. “In 1999, the fund balance was less than $387,000. I’m very proud of this community.”
One article on this year’s warrant that should draw much discussion is the taking of a portion of Murray Road by eminent domain. Property owners who live along Sebasticook Lake at the end of the road are in favor of taking the road to allow permanent, unimpeded access to their homes.
The land, two narrow strips on each side of the road, has been appraised at $676 and $208, and the title insurance company for the affected homeowners has offered to pay $2,000 for each strip.
But the two landowners, Carl Norris and Lauris Boylan, oppose the move, stating publicly that the matter should not be decided by the town. They maintain it is a private matter for the residents of the subdivision, their title companies, Norris and Boylan to decide.
For this year’s annual budget, the town’s appointed budget committee approved taking cash from the surplus funds for three purposes: $75,000 to offset taxation; $20,000 for a facilities engineering assessment of the public works garage, police and fire department buildings; and $113,000 to pay off debt.
Ricker said that if the debt payments are approved at the town meeting, the town will have only $118,000 in total debt remaining. “That’s less debt than 10 years ago,” he said.
The budget committee also approved seeking a bond package to construct a salt-sand shed. “We’ve been trying to do this for 30 years,” Ricker said. He said the construction bond would be about $150,000.