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Moxie Festival a go after Lisbon council gets financial update

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Ashley Fish of Lewiston guzzles a can of Moxie during the annual Chugging Challenge at the Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls Saturday, July 14, 2012.
By Paula Gibbs, Special to the Sun Journal

LISBON, Maine — Support for the town’s annual Moxie Festival got a boost Tuesday night when town councilors heard results of this year’s financial report from Scott Benson, director of Economic and Community Development.

“We raised considerably more in revenue this year,” Benson said. “We started with a $2,800 balance, we raised $30,000, and we spent $26,000. We have startup funds for next year of $7,000 — so we more than doubled our startup funds.”

When the Council scheduled a public forum in September to look at the future of the festival, it prompted speculation that maybe the annual event might be discontinued. However, Benson said some changes he’s recommending in the short term should free up time spent on the festival by two town employees, and offer nonprofits an opportunity to raise money to support their programs.

“These changes will reduce the staff time of the town clerk and administrative assistant and encourage a broader community-based ownership while preserving and advancing an important community institution,” Benson said. At the request of some community members who cannot attend afternoon meetings of the Moxie Festival Committee, several meetings will be held in the evening.

Benson praised the efforts of John Silvestri and Brenda Rogers, “who took the corporate sponsorship revenues of $6,900 last year to over $10,000 this year.” Vendors also increased their revenue, he said.

Next year’s festival will be July 12-14. Organizers say the event attracts 50,000 people.

Planning Board Chairman Don Fellows presented the Council with a report on recommendations to address traffic and code enforcement issues on Route 9.

The report followed a public hearing and survey that revealed residents are concerned about the traffic volume on the road and the need for more emphasis on code enforcement, especially as it applies to businesses classified as home occupations.

The town’s definition of a home occupation needs to be clarified and expanded, he said. Board members have studied an ordinance in the town of Turner that defines three levels of home occupation, ranging from “a computer in the corner of a bedroom” to a business that “has a sign on the lawn and customers come to the site.”

In the long term, Fellows said the board would like to see the issue of commercial development along Route 9 addressed in a revision of the town’s comprehensive plan.

Council Chairman Fern Larochelle announced that as a result of the Nov. 6 ballot results, the Council will be appointing a five-member Finance Committee to replace the Budget Advisory Committee, whose members were elected.

More than 4,000 residents cast votes on the change which was approved by a margin of 69 votes, 2,122 to 2,053.

The Committee will be largely advisory, and will be charged with reviewing purchasing and internal control policies, investments and monthly financial reports of the town and school department. Meetings will be held monthly, and quarterly meetings will be held with the Council.

The Committee will also meet once a year with auditors and conduct an annual review of funds available through the Office of Economic and Community Development.

Applications for a seat on the Committee are on the town website. Larochelle said the Council is hoping to attract people with accounting, financial and budget-making experience.

An agenda item to discuss the future of the Water Commission was limited to a few remarks by Larochelle. Voters narrowly approved a question on the November ballot asking if the town should take over the duties of the commission.

“This was a nonbinding question,” Larochelle said. “It’s complex, and it’s nothing that’s going to happen overnight.”

The Council voted to go into executive session to discuss labor negotiations with the town’s unions.


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