June 19, 2018
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Newport residents to vote on budget

By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff

NEWPORT, Maine — Voters here will be presented with a municipal budget proposal that is $107,000 less than the current year budget when they gather Saturday for the annual town meeting.

Town Manager James Ricker said the Board of Selectmen has proposed spending increases for a few specific projects, but was able to reduce funding in other areas for a municipal budget proposal of $2,374,479.

Among the new initiatives is an additional police officer, which will be funded for the first three years by a recent federal COPS grant won by the town, said Ricker. The grant is scheduled to expire in fall 2012.

There also are modest increases proposed in professional services, public fire protection and road construction. Ricker said the town’s priorities on road improvements have not been determined, but that he expected Rutland and Pratt roads, as well as in-town sidewalks, to receive some attention this year. Included in the roads budget is $18,000 that was appropriated last year but not spent.

Selectmen also increased the buildings and grounds budget by about $3,500 in order to install vinyl sheeting on the eaves at the town office, which will eliminate the need for painting the eaves every few years. Voters also will decide whether to spend more than $15,000 for repairs to the North Street Dam.

“They are leaking fluid,” said Ricker.

Voters will be asked to approve $200,000 in borrowing for the construction of a new sand and salt shed. A loan of $150,000 was approved at last year’s town meeting, but Ricker said that loan never was taken because of the “tough economic times.” Whether the town will borrow the money in the next year remains to be seen, said Ricker.

“First and foremost in that decision will be how revenues come in overall,” he said.

Voters also will be asked for $8,500 for the destruction of a town-owned building at 18 Water St. The building already has been torn down. The person who performed the job is counting on voters approving his pay, said Ricker.

In business unrelated to the budget, voters will decide on an ordinance that would limit medical marijuana dispensaries to the town’s commercial district under the same rules that govern methadone clinics, though Ricker said there are no applications for marijuana dispensaries in Newport.

Town meeting begins at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Newport Community Center. Municipal elections will be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the Community Center.

Three people are vying for two seats on the Board of Selectmen. They are incumbent Thomas Breitweg, Randolph Davis and Donna Hodges. Selectman Richard Parlee has opted not to try for re-election after nine years on the board.

Carl Smith III and George Phelps are uncontested for the Regional School Unit 19 board of directors and the Newport Water District, respectively. Both are incumbents. There also are two three-year terms and a partial term open on the Newport Sanitary District, but there are no candidates. That means there is a possibility of someone being elected as a write-in.

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