Maine town to consider bill backing residents’ right to bear arms

Posted June 08, 2013, at 6:14 a.m.
Last modified June 08, 2013, at 7:58 a.m.

SABATTUS, Maine — Voters will decide Tuesday whether to pass a citizen-initiated gun rights ordinance and whether to overhaul the traditional town meeting to make it sleeker and shorter.

David Marsters and Amedeo Lauria gathered 240 signatures to see Question 1 on the ballot. It would block the town from adopting policies or ordinances that restrict the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Marters had originally wanted to see Sabattus require every homeowner to own a gun. The new, revamped proposal includes a clause that would maintain the town’s right to prohibit employees from carrying guns on the job or the public from carrying guns on town property.

“It’s really nothing now,” Marsters said Friday. He’d still like it to pass and believes it will.

“Maybe next year it’ll force more, try to get more done, if we still have a country left,” he said.

Selectmen decided not to take a stance for or against Question 1. They’ve come out in favor of the 10 other questions on the ballot, all changes recommended by the Charter Commission.

One question would streamline the annual town meeting warrant, leaving off some articles that appear year after year.

“If the voters approve long-term debt, say for the municipal building or the road bond, it’s kind of nonsensical to go back every year and ask them for authority to pay the debt service that they’ve already obligated and we’re contractually, legally obligated to pay anyway,” Town Manager Andrew Gilmore said.

It would make for a shorter meeting. Another proposed change: Moving town meeting from a weekend to a weeknight.

The hope: “Encourage more people to participate in the biggest business meeting of the year,” Gilmore said.

Thirty-eight people came to town meeting last Saturday. Sabattus has 3,819 registered voters.

The Charter Commission had considered scrapping town meeting entirely.

“There are still members that think the era of the town meeting has passed,” he said. “This was an incremental step. If it turns out we make these changes and we get no more participation and interest in town meeting then I think the commission may reconvene and rethink that.”

Another question asks voters to change how Sabattus spends excise tax collections. The proposal would channel 25 percent toward road projects, a sort of forced savings. That money goes now to general expenses.

“When times are tough, you make cuts and put off road improvements,” Gilmore said.

He said the amount to be set aside would equal 25 percent of collections during the last audited year. That would be $170,000 to set aside this year.

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 11, at the town office.

 

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