February 21, 2018
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Blue Hill voters to decide wharf project, utility job

By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff

BLUE HILL, Maine — Expanding parking at the Water Street parking lot and adding a new town position are among the issues voters will deal with at the annual town meeting this weekend.

Voters will go to the polls 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, April 3, at the town hall for municipal elections. There are no contested races this year. Voters will tackle the remaining 90 articles beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday at the consolidated school.

Expansion of the Water Street parking lot has been in the works for several years and, according to selectmen, has been held up waiting for state environmental permits. Those permits are now in hand and the selectmen need to know how to proceed.

Costs for the project have escalated while the town waited for permitting, according to Selectman Duane Gray. The town has allocated $60,000 for the project, but although the cost of asphalt has dropped after skyrocketing last year, the selectmen have no current estimate on how much the project will cost.

The warrant also asks voters if they will create a new maintenance department for the town. The department actually would be just one utility position to handle many of the town hall maintenance jobs that are currently outsourced, according to Selectman Jim Schatz. The idea behind creating the new position, he said, was that there might be some savings to the town.

The selectmen have allocated $30,000 to fund the position for the rest of this year, including benefits. Much of those funds, Schatz said, already are included in the budget in other areas.

Like many towns, Blue Hill overspent its snowplowing account last year, and the warrant asks voters to allocate $82,560 to cover that overage. The warrant also asks voters to approve $7,000 to reopen the Dodge Fountain and to conduct tests on it. The fountain was once open to the public, but was closed after a state inspection discovered bacteria in the water.

Voters also will be asked to approve changes to the shoreland zoning ordinance, the parking ordinance and the street vending ordinance.

The school budget for the coming year totals $4,268,980, an increase of $101,604, or 2.4 percent.

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