Harpswell to decide budget, elect selectman

Posted March 08, 2013, at 8:15 p.m.

HARPSWELL, Maine — It’s a bind hardly exclusive to Harpswell.

Voters at Saturday’s annual town meeting will face an array of spending choices based largely on how to provide equal or increased services with less revenue.

The meeting is scheduled to commence at 10 a.m. at Harpswell Community School.

Polls will open an hour earlier at 9 a.m., with voters required to choose a meeting moderator and a new selectman to replace outgoing board member Jim Henderson.

Three candidates — current budget advisory board member Rick Daniel, previous board candidate C. Matthew Rich and board of appeals member Ellen Shillinglaw — are running.

Also up for re-election — and unopposed — are town clerk Rosalind Knight, tax collector Jill Caldwell and School Administrative District 75 board member Linda Hall. Each position carries a three-year-term.

Then the more contentious discussion will begin.

Overall, the municipal budget proposed for 2013 is $4.29 million — a drop of 1.6 percent — or $67,634 — from 2012.

Neither county taxes, which are scheduled to increase 1.3 percent, nor the SAD 75 school budget, are included in the town’s budget.

Of 11 budgetary categories, six include reductions from last year.

Among warrant issues to be considered during this year’s community conclave are:

— Authorization to borrow and spend up to $220,000 to reacquire public access to a longtime local beach recently closed by private owners.

— Whether to reduce by $20,000 the amount of money allocated for maintenance and operation of the former West Harpswell School. The Ash Point Community Library operates from the former school building.

— Also up for consideration is whether the board will be authorized to negotiate and execute a multi-year lease for tenants interested in moving into the former West Harpswell School.

Having a tenant would reduce the town’s maintenance expenses, as well as provide a revenue stream.

Potential charter school Harpswell Coastal Academy previously considered making the building its initial home, but that deal disintegrated because the state requires charter schools to have a multiyear lease, and the town would allow only a year-to-year lease.

— A slew of amendments to the town’s shellfish, solid waste, harbor and waterfront ordinances.

Proposed changes range from age of eligible diggers to environmental parameters regarding land-based application of fertilizers and other growth stimulants.

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