November 21, 2019
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Caribou Council again puts off hearing date on secession plan

CARIBOU, Maine — The Caribou City Council again tabled a vote this week on setting a public hearing date for the Caribou Secession Committee.

The most recent proposal from the secession committee was to hold a public hearing on its proposal at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 23, at the Caribou Performing Arts Center. The idea of using the arts center surprised the City Council partly because it costs money to use the facility.

“If cost is a factor, we’d be willing to share in the cost,” secession committee spokesperson Paul Camping said during Monday night’s council meeting.

“I don’t have any problem using [the center],” Mayor Gary Aiken said. “Truthfully, most of you fellas, every time you come in here you talk about spending money we don’t have to.”

The originally proposed location for the public hearing was at the Caribou Wellness Center, which could be used at no cost to taxpayers.

Councilors also questioned the start time of 7 p.m.

“I think you’ll get more production from a morning or afternoon meeting,” Councilor David Martin said.

“If we have nice sunny weather, people are going to be doing their lawns, they’ll be outside enjoying the fresh air,” Camping said.

“If people want to be involved, they’ll come regardless of doing it on a Saturday morning or a Thursday night or whatever,” Aiken said. “I think we’re best if we wait to [set a date] until you fellas are ready.”

Camping stood composed before the council and acknowledged the secession committee has more work to do in preparation for the public hearing. It is not clear when the committee will return to the council with another request.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 11.

Representatives of the secession committee have been eager to secure a date for the public hearing on their proposal since having their petition signatures certified in March.

Prompted by their frustration with high taxes, members of the committee introduced their secession proposal last July. The proposal would remove 80 percent of the taxable property in Caribou, which is roughly everything but the downtown district, to form the new municipality of Lyndon. The brunt of the population of 8,189 people, however, would remain in what’s left of Caribou.

As part of the lengthy secession process, the committee first needed to gather enough signatures to hold a public hearing. During that hearing, committee members must make a formal presentation to municipal residents and officers, describing the problems that led to their proposal and explaining their plans to resolve them.

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