ORRINGTON, Maine — Residents elected selectmen and school committee members and adopted a budget for town and school operations in the coming year during local elections and the annual town meeting, both of which took place Monday.
Monday night’s annual town meeting, which drew at least 60 people, started almost an hour later than scheduled, largely because election officials had to conduct several rounds of counting for close totals in the three-way race for the remaining year of Christine Lavoie’s unexpired term. The position opened up in April, when Lavoie resigned because she moved out of state.
Charles Green took the seat with 97 votes. His opponents were only one vote apart, with Christopher Swanson nabbing 76 votes to Kenneth Gilbert’s 75.
In the race for two three-year seats on the Board of Selectmen, voters elected Keith Bowden and Allan Snell to the expiring three-year seats held by Howard Grover and Terrence Bladen, neither of whom sought re-election.
Bowden was the top vote getter with 216 ballots cast in his name, while Snell won the other seat with 128 votes. Mark Buongirno, who also ran, got 47 votes during Monday’s election.
Glendon Rand II and Jennifer Long, who were unopposed in their re-election bids, received 184 and 167, votes respectively.
During the annual town meeting, residents adopted a $9,771,535 combined town and school budget for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
The budget includes funding for town and school operations as well as the county tax.
The overall budget reflects an increase of about 4.8 percent, largely because of increased costs for education, the county tax and municipal operations.
Town Manager Paul White said last month that town expenses are going up about 3 percent, largely because of the need to replenish salt and sand supplies in the aftermath of the recent extreme winter and because the town is funding reserve accounts for capital projects and other big-ticket items as directed by voters at last year’s town meeting.
The proposed $6.4 million education budget is up about 2.4 percent from this year’s budget, according to municipal budget documents.
Largely because of the combination of the increase in the gross education budget, a 5.7 percent decrease in state subsidy and a 1.4 percent drop in Orrington’s state valuation, the local share is projected to increase from $2,985,480 to $3,140,220, or slightly more than 5 percent, according to school budget comparisons.
Also up is the county tax, which at $418,054 is 2.7 percent higher than this year’s $407,058, budget documents show.
Because town and school officials have been “very diligent” in controlling costs, the town has been able keep its property tax rate at $13.45 per $1,000 in property valuation for the past three years.
But with several years worth of increased costs and reduced state aid, White said he expects that taxpayers will see a small property tax rate increase next year.