School board, council filled in Baileyville

Posted March 25, 2009, at 8:47 p.m.

BAILEYVILLE, Maine — A new face and a familiar face will be seen on the Town Council after more than 200 voters cast their ballots on Monday.

The top vote-getter for a three-year seat on the Town Council was incumbent Dottie Johnson with 116. Also elected was newcomer Jason Fowler with 93 votes. He beat out incumbent Tim Call, who received 53 votes.

Runners-up included Dennis Burrill, Richard Gayton and Patricia Richards. They received 70, 62 and 48 votes respectively.

In the school board race, incumbent Lawrence “Gus” Gillis lost his bid for another term to Scott Harriman. The vote was 74 for Gillis and 154 for Harriman, a former town manager. A total of 235 people cast ballots.

On Tuesday, the new Town Council was scheduled to hold its organizational meeting, but a mix-up in schedules has delayed the meeting until April 13.

Johnson said Wednesday that although the full council did not meet, she sat down with Fowler to familiarize him with the 2009-2010 town budget.

And what a budget it is.

Earlier this month, the Montreal-based Domtar Corp. announced it was shutting down its pulp mill indefinitely, which has thrown the town’s budget into a tailspin.

In the past, Baileyville has been the envy of Washington County with its four mills paying nearly 90 percent of the town’s property taxes.

But no more.

All but one mill has closed, and there are questions as to whether the pulp mill will reopen after it shuts down in May.

In light of what has happened at Domtar, the council is trying to keep expenses down without cutting services.

“Keeping the mill rate down is not for Domtar any more than it is for the rest of us because we’re all going to be paying,” Johnson said.

Johnson, who is also the interim town manager, said she hopes the council will schedule a public hearing on the budget for the first week in April. “Then we will plan when the town meeting will be,” she said.

Changes to the budget include an anticipated $30,000 in income from the ambulance service now that the town has switched from free service to pay-as-you-go service. Johnson said she has not heard complaints from residents over the change in ambulance service.

The four-member Police Department has been reduced to three now that one officer has resigned to take a job with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. “It’s a vacancy we are not filling,” Johnson said. She estimated that would save the town about $50,000 in salary and benefits.

Johnson said she did not expect the school budget to be ready until June. “They depend on the state so much, and the state doesn’t know what it is doing,” she said and paused. “As far as money [available to schools],” she quickly added.

bdncalais@myfairpoint.net

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