Budgets, bathrooms, breakwater on ballot

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Voters at town meeting next Monday, May 4, will be asked to approve town and school budgets for next fiscal year totaling $6.5 million.

The proposed municipal budget of just under $3.18 million is 1 percent higher than the budget for the current year, with no big changes in any spending category.

The proposed Pemetic Elementary School budget of just over $3.32 million is 1.1 percent higher than the current year’s budget.

If approved, the two budgets should increase the property tax rate by only three or four cents per thousand dollars of valuation, depending on this year’s property assessments, according to Town Manager Don Lagrange. However, a larger increase in the town’s share of funding for Mount Desert Island High School will have a greater impact on the tax rate, which is currently $12.86 per $1,000 of property valuation.

“Right now, we’re projecting a mill rate of $13.01, but if our [property] valuation comes in a little higher [than expected], we might get it down to around $12.95,” Lagrange said.

The open floor town meeting will start at 7 p.m. Monday in the Pemetic Elementary School gymnasium.

The following day, Tuesday, May 5, voters will go to the polls to elect one member to the board of selectmen and two members to the Southwest Harbor school committee and to vote on several warrant articles. The polls will be open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. at the Southwest Harbor fire station.

Dan Norwood is running unopposed for reelection to the board of selectmen. Three candidates are running for the school committee: John Bench, Michael Sawyer and incumbent Susan Allen. See related story in this issue.

Residents also will vote by secret ballot on a proposal to spend up to $84,000 in surplus funds for construction of new public restrooms to replace the existing ones behind Veterans Memorial Park off Main Street.

Voters also will be asked to approve an ordinance amendment that would allow the board of selectmen to accept as a town road any privately built road that meets the town’s construction standards. Currently, a privately built road can become a town road only by a vote of residents at town meeting.

The planning board recommended the change to encourage developers to build roads to town standards. Developers are less likely to do that without a guarantee that the town will accept the road, planning board members said.

The final item to be voted on May 5 is a proposal to allow the selectmen to convey an easement to Dysart’s Great Harbor Marina for construction of a breakwater in the harbor. Dysart’s wants to build the breakwater to better protect boats at the marina and to attract more business.

“It’s going to be a safe haven for a lot of people who could use the waterfront year-round,” said Bud Brown, the environmental consultant hired by Dysart’s for the project. “It will make it useable, a place where people can store or use their boats who just don’t have that opportunity now. Anytime you get an easterly storm, particularly in the fall and winter, they have a lot of damage to the floats.”

Micah Peabody, the marina manager, agreed that it is a dangerous place in the winter.

“We don’t have a protected harbor by any stretch of the imagination,” he said at a public hearing on the proposed breakwater easement in March.

In addition to an easement from the town, the project requires approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the town’s planning board.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. dbr[email protected]
Dick Broom

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