June 25, 2018
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Hermon voters fill unexpired council post, OK charter amendments

By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff

HERMON, Maine — Residents filled an unexpired Town Council seat in local Election Day action on Tuesday.

They also approved a series of town charter amendments that went before them in June but did not take effect due to low voter turnout.

Low turnout was not a problem for this election. Interim Town Clerk Ruth Nickerson said Wednesday morning that more than 3,000 voters came to the polls — roughly 100 of them also registering to vote. Ballot counters didn’t finish their work until shortly after 2:15 a.m. Wednesday, she said.

In the council election, Alden Brown won the three-way race for a position that opened during the summer when Councilor Sharon Nickerson stepped down from her seat, which expires on June 30 of next year.

Brown, who previously served six years on the council, had 1,064 votes, outpacing opponents Jeanne Jacques, who had 894 votes, and Donna Pulver, who picked up 696 votes.

Also on Tuesday, voters passed four of the five groups of charter amendments, most of them housekeeping in nature, put before them.

Although the charter amendments passed when they went before voters in a townwide referendum on June 12, the total number of votes cast fell short of the minimum needed to make them official.

Town officials agreed to put half of the charter updates back before voters on Nov. 6, when a large turnout was expected because of the presidential election, and to put the rest of them up for a vote next year.

Among other things, the amendments that did pass:

— Increase the number of consecutive three-year terms that town councilors and school committee members can serve from two to three.

— Require that annual school budgets be voted on at either the annual town meeting or that a special town meeting to be called for that purpose. Proposed expenditures would have to be split into no fewer than the following line items: debt service, reserves, capital improvements and all other expenditures. The school budget plan would have to be submitted to the town manager at least 30 days before that annual or special town meeting.

— Increase stipends for councilors and school board members.

— Increase the dollar limit for expenditures and individual capital improvements requiring town meeting approval from $7,500 to $25,000.

The amendment voters rejected would have allowed the town to use up to 25 percent, or $750,000 — whichever is less — of the town’s reserve account funds to meet cash flow, but only with the approval of at least five town councilors. The accounts would have had to be repaid.

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