Machias elections, school budget and town meeting coming up

Posted May 26, 2011, at 11:18 a.m.
Last modified May 26, 2011, at 2:12 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — Annual elections and budgets are coming up starting next week in Machias, with the school budget first, followed by municipal elections and the annual town meeting.

The annual school budget meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, at the Rose Gaffney Gymnasium. Elections for Machias will be held from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, at the town office. The annual town meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, at Machias Memorial High School.

Three people are vying for two Machias selectmen’s seats and, although there are two openings on the Machias School Committee, only one person is seeking re-election.

Incumbent selectmen Aubrey “Skip” Carter, the current board chairman, and Cony Upton, are seeking re-election to the three-year positions, challenged by Stephen Smith.

In a special election in January, Smith lost to Upton by a single vote, triggering a recount that resulted in the same results. The men were seeking a six-month position that was opened after the death of longtime selectman Norman Nelson, 92, in December 2010.

This year’s annual town report is dedicated to Nelson, whose life was spent in public service, and to longtime Machias town employee and firefighter Daniel Geel.

Incumbent Gerard NeCastro is seeking re-election to a three-year term on the Machias School Committee. But no other candidate is on the ballot though two seats are open on the panel.

Barring changes in school funding under debate in the current legislative session, the latest figures released by Machias Superintendent Scott Porter indicate the proposed budget of $4.1 million is just $89,411 higher than the current budget. The local share of the budget would be $60,000, with an additional $25,000 as the local share of adult education.

Town Manager Chris Loughlin said that on the municipal side of the ledger, the budget committee met its goal of a zero tax rate increase. This proved challenging, he said, since revenues — both state and local — are expected to decrease by nearly $70,000.

Some of the cuts were: The public works department lost a part-time employee, the airport account was cut by more than $4,000, town activities and facilities improvements were cut by nearly $4,000, tax maps were cut by $1,500, debt service dropped by $36,000, and third party requests were cut by $4,000.

The town budget package includes a $400,000 loan for paving and road reconstruction, and sidewalk repairs. The town also will purchase a new ambulance to replace one that is limping along with high maintenance costs. Machias has $40,000 in an ambulance reserve fund and will borrow the rest of the money required. A new police cruiser also will be purchased through a loan for around $28,000.

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