December 10, 2018
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Selectmen, budget committee divided over additional spending on police cars

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Kennebunk Police Chief Robert MacKenzie speaks to reporters outside the York County Courthouse in Alfred in this BDN file photo.

In a joint meeting of the Kennebunk Board of Selectmen and the Budget Board on Tuesday, two warrant articles were moved on to voters for the November ballot, but support for the expenditures was mixed among members of both boards, with concern over tax rates and town spending mounting.

Voters will be asked on Nov. 6 to appropriate $75,000 from the town’s unassigned general fund for the purchase of two police vehicles, and $100,000 from the same fund to help purchase a conservation easement to protect 72 acres of woods and trails owned by Hope Cemetery.

The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to support the $75,000 for the police vehicles.

Police Chief Bob MacKenzie said one vehicle would be equipped for the Animal Control Officer. A total of $40,000 was appropriated for police vehicles in the budget approved by voters in June. MacKenzie said it’s hard to know what vehicles are available on the market, and the exact costs during budget time. He said the estimates that were given at budget time did not include all of the packages for life saving equipment and lights necessary, which total an extra $19,000.

Selectman Ed Karytko said that while it’s difficult to support the additional expense, he appreciates that MacKenzie is “trying to be as economical as possible and do the right thing.”

“I’m going to vote in favor of sending this forward because I’m not going to tie our police department’s hands behind their back,” Karytko said.

Kennebunk resident Lionel Menard opposed the added funds, asking when the rising costs in town were going to stop.

“When is it going to stop? I think you should stick with the $40,000 that was budgeted,” Menard said.

While selectmen voted to recommend this expenditure 7-0, the budget board voted against recommending it.

The other warrant article that will be put before voters in November asks residents to approve $100,000 to help purchase a conservation easement to protect 72 acres of woods and trails owned by Hope Cemetery.

The Hope Cemetery Corporation and the Friends of Hope Cemetery & Woods are collaborating with the Kennebunk Land Trust to protect 72 acres of woods and trails owned by Hope Cemetery. The total amount needed to be raised is 1.4 million.

George Harrison, president of the Friends of Hope Cemetery, told both boards that the conservation easement will limit other uses for the property, and prevent it from being developed.

“We will be raising money for the purchase of the easement and raising money for an endowment fund to maintain the land. The land trust will be the stewards of the land to make sure everything is done correctly,” Harrison said. ” The trails are in excellent shape. It’s really become an excellent place for open air enjoyment for the town.”

Harrison said the group has secured a $250,000 grant from Land for Maine Futures, providing the additional funding can be raised. He said the grant came through quickly because Land for Maine Futures recognized that the Hope Cemetery land is in the center of town and accessible for all to use.

He said the Friends of Hope Cemetery and Woods want to continue to improve the trails, and build a universally accessible trail with handicapped parking that will make the property fully accessible to anyone with mobility issues.

Selectman Chris Cluff said it’s important for town residents to know that there are a lot of competing interests for the town’s budgeted money.

“I understand this project, and you all have done a lot of work on it. But I look year after year at our priorities and what we have to do. When does it end,” Karytko said. “I’m going to vote against this because I have an inherent problem with people needing to know what this is going to mean to them. They need to know all the things that are costing them money.”

Resident Jay Kilbourn spoke in support of the funds, saying it’s a great parcel of land for the town to invest in and preserve for recreational use.

Selectmen voted 4 to 3 to support moving the warrant article to a town vote in November, but they voted against recommending it by a 5 against and 2 in favor measure. The Budget Board did not vote on a recommendation.

For more coverage of the Kennebunk selectmen, visit seacoastonline.com.

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