BAR HARBOR, Maine — Approximately 160 residents gathered Tuesday at the local elementary school to approve municipal budgets totaling nearly $18 million for the coming year.
Voters approved an elementary and middle school budget of approximately $4.78 million and a municipal operations budget of more than $13 million for the 2009-10 fiscal year, which begins July 1. There was minimal debate at the meeting.
Voters also approved spending $5.1 million on capital improvements over the next few years. Of that amount, more than $3.1 million will go toward repairing and improving local roads and storm drains, about half a million dollars will be spent on sidewalk upgrades, $230,000 will be spent on improvements at the municipal town office, and $28,000 will be spent on repairs to the public safety building.
According to Town Manager Dana Reed, the expense of other infrastructure improvement projects included in the $5.1 million total will be repaid through fees rather than taxes. He said the town hopes to pursue the projects now in order to take advantage of low interest rates, which he said would likely be around 5.5 percent, and of relatively low construction costs.
The town expects to use revenue from cruise ship fees to cover the cost of improvements to Barker Park and Harborview Park and of construction of new public restrooms on Newport Drive, Reed said Tuesday night. Starting July 1, the town plans to start charging $2.50 for each passenger that cruise ship companies bring to Bar Harbor, which should increase the amount of money the town collects annually through cruise ship fees by several hundred thousand dollars, according to Reed.
The new restrooms on Newport Drive are expected to cost $467,745 to build, while the town plans to spend $75,000 on improving Barker Park and $25,000 on Harborview Park.
Reed said the town plans to spend $600,000 on improvements to the water system, the cost of which will be repaid through water system user fees.