Franklin Countys First News

Chesterville voters approve Public Works appropriations, zoning change

Residents vote at the annual town meeting Monday.

CHESTERVILLE - Roughly 50 residents thoroughly discussed every aspect of the proposed municipal budget at Monday's town meeting, approving expenditures for Public Works Department equipment and changes to the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance.

The meeting began with the announcement of Friday's election results. Incumbent selectmen Tiffany Estabrook and Matt Welch were both reelected, to be joined on the board by John Archer. Regional School Unit 9 Director Craig Stickney was also reelected.

Voters opted for the selectmen's proposed budget, a little less than 1 percent reduction of the previous fiscal year's $895,937 municipal budget. Clerk Pamela Griswold said that preliminary numbers run late Monday indicate that the budget would come in roughly $30,000 below the LD1 tax levy limit of $560,000.

The difference between the Board of Selectmen and Budget Committee recommendations was close - roughly $800 - but voters carefully went over their options and discussed every difference over the course of the four-and-a-half hour meeting. The town's new moderator - Denis Culley, a former Mercer town official who has moderated a number of meetings elsewhere - kept questions and answers flowing over the long night.

Sen. Russell Black (R - Wilton) and Rep. Randy Hall (R - Wilton) talk about some of the upcoming issues being discussed at the Maine State Legislature.

Major decisions included raising $70,000 and matching that appropriation with $45,000 out of surplus to go toward Public Works Equipment purchases. While not specified in the article, Griswold said that the idea was that the selectmen and Public Works Department would discuss the best use for the funds, whether it be for one newer piece of equipment or two older ones.

Residents also approved the lease purchase of a new plow truck at the cost of $200,000, plus fees and interest, over a five-year period. The approximate annual cost would be $45,000.

In what has become an annual discussion, residents spent significant time hashing over the 3 percent discount for timely payment of taxes. Currently, the town provides the discount on real estate taxes, assuming they're paid in the 30-day period immediately following the commitment date. The cost of that discount is budgeted at $35,000; town officials said that 62 percent of the town's taxpayers take advantage of it.

Supporters of the policy said that the discount provides an incentive for prompt payment of taxes. That helps the town avoid a tax anticipation note - effectively, borrowing money at the beginning of a fiscal year to meet early operation costs. Chesterville has successfully avoided having to take out a note in the past two years, an avenue that a number of residents said they preferred.

Residents opposed to the discount said that it unfairly burdened those without the means to pay their entire tax bill immediately, a group that they said included many older residents. Among those that benefited from the discount, they said, were corporations like Central Maine Power and a national land-holding company.

After several minutes of discussion, residents opted to keep the discount. The next article funded the $35,000 cost.

Residents also adjusted the town's Shoreland Zoning Ordinance, striking a since-retired state requirement that flagged land near wading bird habitat as Resource Protection District. Ensuing articles changed the zoning of land near Robinson Pond from Resource Protection to the less-restrictive Limited Residential, while land around Crowell Pond was changed from Limited Residential to Resource Protection. The issue arose after a landowner near Robinson Pond questioned the designation of the property. The Planning Board later voted to advance the changes to town meeting.

The map changes, Code Enforcement Officer Brenda Medcoff explained, effectively reversed alterations imposed by the state in 2006; those alterations were reversed at the state level a couple years later. She noted that those seeking to build on shoreland would still need the applicable Maine Department of Environmental Protection permits.

The town report was dedicated to Bob Cox, a U.S. Air Force veteran, former Chesterville Constable, Fence Viewer and town moderator, as well as an employee in many different capacities for the Franklin County Sheriff's Office. Cox moved to Chesterville back in 1970.

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3 Responses »

  1. Seems kind of funny that discussion was shut down on the Lease Purchase agreement for a new truck and the article was voted yes. There was no wording in the article to appropriate the funds for this. I wonder who is paying for the first payment of around $45,000??? The select board?The treasurer?

  2. I agree with ?????? I would like to thank the selectmen for making the first $45000 dollar payment. Must be nice for five people to have that kind of money to donate to the town.
    Thank you

  3. The article in the warrant doesn't state where the 45000 dollars is coming from, taxes or surplus. Since the debate was limited maybe some one could forward an explanation.