Franklin Countys First News

Citizen’s initiative, bond questions, curbside pickup make up Nov. 3 ballot

Franklin County heads to the polls on Tuesday to decide two bond issues and one citizen initiative, as well as a local issue in Jay, with the town taking advantage of the open polls. Poll places and times can also be found below.

Jay Ballot Question

Jay residents will need to determine the future of their town's curbside trash pickup service on Nov. 3. The question represents an advisory vote, rather than a yes/no, referendum vote. It will appear on the ballot like this:

Would you prefer that the Select Board privatize the Town's curbside collection program to an outside company, paid by the Town, to provide the same service the Town currently provides, saving the Town approximately $130,000 per year?

OR

Would you prefer that the Select Board eliminate the Town's curbside collection program, saving the Town approximately $250,000 per year?

Town officials decided to go with an advisory vote, rather than a referendum question, as Maine Municipal Association counseled that option provided a greater chance for the public input on the discussion.

This year, the transfer station budget approved by voters totals $637,800.

Privatizing curbside collection of waste and recyclables would result in the municipality picking up the cost for the service. In both cases, either elimination or privatization, the savings would be garnered through the elimination of two employee positions and a truck. With a private hauler, approximately half the annual savings would go toward paying that company for the service.

The town has taken up this issue before, back in 2010. The Board of Selectpersons and Budget Committee voted to take the curbside question to the voters at the annual town meeting that year, with voters opting to maintain the service as is. Since then, the entire transfer station budget has been significantly reduced, down from $1.14 million in the 2010-11 fiscal year. Other services, such as municipal pickup of commercial dumpsters, were dropped from the budget, while the town saved additional funds by taking up single-sort recycling in 2011.

Statewide Ballot Questions

Question 1 is a citizen initiative, indicating that it was added to the ballot after more than 61,000 Maine residents signed the petition. That number is equal to 10 percent of the total votes cast in the 2014 election for governor. The wording will appear on the ballot like this:

Do you want to change Maine law to allow publicly financed state candidates to qualify for additional funds under certain limits and rules in the Maine Clean Election Act, to improve the disclosure of who pays for political ads, and to increase penalties for violations of campaign finance law?

A 'yes' vote supports enacting the legislation. A 'no' vote opposes it.

The legislation that would be implemented through a 'yes' vote would modify the state's Clean Elections Act, which was originally passed in 1996. Candidates utilize Clean Elections Act funds by collecting a number of $5 contributions from people within their district.

After a Supreme Court ruling in 2011 that struck down a portion of a similar Clean Elections law in Arizona, as well as the rise of Political Action Committees following the Citizens United decision of 2010, the number of Clean Election campaigns has dwindled.

The citizen initiative would increase the annual transfer of state dollars into the Maine Clean Election Fund from $2 to $3 million. Additional funds would be available to Clean Election candidates if they acquired additional $5 contributions.

It would also establish new initial distribution amounts for candidates and repeal the seed money requirement for gubernatorial candidates.

The bill would also direct the Legislature to eliminate $6 million of corporate tax expenditures. That is roughly the same amount of money that it is anticipated the changes to the Clean Election process will cost.

Independent entities that expend money relating to elections, such as PACs, would need to list their top three funders.

Finally, the bill would toughen the penalties for violating campaign finance laws.

Supporters of the bill argue that it would offer increased transparency in relation to elections and special interest money. Those in opposition argue that increasing Clean Election funding is a waste of money and may cost more than current estimations.

Question 2 is a bond issue, asking if voters if they want to borrow money to fund a program to construct or improve energy-efficient homes for seniors. The wording will appear on the ballot like this:

Do you favor a $15,000,000 bond issue for the construction of new energy-efficient affordable homes for low-income seniors, the adaptive reuse of structures for homes for low-income seniors and the repair and weatherization of existing homes for low-income seniors, which will create jobs and will be matched by an estimated $22,600,000 in private and other funds?

If approved by voters across the state, Question 2 would implement “An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Support the Independence of Maine's Seniors," which was supported by at least two-thirds of the state legislature. It would provide $15 million to the Maine State Housing Authority.

The funds would be used in two ways. The majority, $14.5 million, would be used to leverage $22.6 million in private or federal funding to support the "adaptive reuse of structures or homes" for low-income households headed by a person age 55 or older. Homes located in portions of the state that have access to health care services and other essential goods and services would be prioritized, and at least four homes would need to be located in counties with a population of less than 100,000. That would represent 11 of the 16 counties, including Franklin County.

The remaining $500,000 of the bonded money would be used to match private funding for repair and weatherization projects to support low-income seniors.

Estimates indicate that more than 200 housing units would be created, and another 100 units repaired and/or weatherized.

According to the state's Office of the Treasurer, the total cost of the bond (assuming 5 percent interest over 10 years) would $19,125,000: $15 million in principal and the remainder in interest.

Question 3 is another bond issue, asking if voters if they want to borrow money to fund loan programs for road and transportation infrastructure. The wording will appear on the ballot like this:

Do you favor an $85,000,000 bond issue for construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities and equipment related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, transit and bicycle and pedestrian trails, to be used to match an estimated $121,500,000 in federal and other funds?

If approved by voters across the state, Question 3 would implement "An Act To Authorize Two General Fund Bond Issues To Improve Highways, Bridges and Multimodal Facilities" which was supported by at least two-thirds of the state legislature. It would provide $85 million to the Maine Department of Transportation.

Most of the funds, $68 million, would fund the construction, reconstruction or rehabilitation of state highways and bridges. Secondary roads could also be repaired through the Municipal Partnership Initiative, which mandates that 50 percent or more of the cost be contributed by the municipality. As federal funds match state money for statewide projects at the rate of 1.1 to 1, the $68 million bond is expected to leverage $75 million in federal and local funding.

The remaining $17 million would be used to improve facilities relating to ports, railroads, aviation infrastructure and bicycle and pedestrian trails. It is anticipated that $46.5 million in federal, local and private funds would be leveraged through these investments.

According to the state's Office of the Treasurer, the total cost of the bond (assuming 5 percent interest over 10 years) would $108,375,000: $85 million in principal and the remainder in interest.

Poll times and locations in or around Franklin County (all polls close at 8 p.m.)

AVON - Municipal building at 1116 Rangeley Road - opens at 9 a.m.
CARRABASSETT VALLEY - Town office at 1001 Carriage Road - opens at 8 a.m
CARTHAGE - Town office at 703A Carthage Road - opens at 8 a.m.
CHESTERVILLE - Town office at 409 Dutch Gap Road - opens at 8 a.m.
COPLIN PLANTATION - Town office at 8 School Street - opens at 10 a.m.
DALLAS PLANTATION - Townhouse at 436 Dallas Hill Road - opens at 10 a.m.
EUSTIS - Town office at 88 Main Street - opens at 8 a.m.
FARMINGTON - Community center at 127 Middle Street - opens at 8 a.m.
INDUSTRY - Town office at 1033 Industry Road - opens at 8 a.m.
JAY - Community building at 13 Community Drive - opens at 8 a.m.
KINGFIELD - Webster Hall at 38 School Street - open at 8 a.m.
NEW SHARON - Town office at 11 School Lane - open at 10 a.m.
NEW VINEYARD - Smith Memorial Hall at 1680 New Vineyard Road - opens at 8 a.m.
PHILLIPS (Madrid votes here) - Phillips Primary School at 15 Russell Street - opens at 8 a.m.
RANGELEY - Town office at 15 School Street - opens at 8 a.m.
RANGELEY PLANTATION - Rangeley Plt. School House at 393 South Shore Drive - opens at 10 a.m.
SANDY RIVER PLANTATION - Town office at 33 Town Hall Road - opens at 10 a.m.
STRONG - Forster Memorial Building at 14 South Main Street - opens at 8 a.m.
TEMPLE - Town hall at 258 Temple Road - opens at 8 a.m.
VIENNA - Community building - opens at 8 a.m.
WELD - Multi-purpose room at 23 Mill Street - opens at 10 a.m.
WILTON - Municipal building at 158 Weld Road - opens at 8 a.m.

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