Budgets fail to bridge broadband differences



BAR HARBOR — Two different versions of a proposed town budget will be on the warrant when residents gather at the annual town meeting here June 7.

The difference between the two budget proposals that will be discussed on June 7 is $50,000 in a capital improvement program (CIP) account towards a $100,000 engineering study of a possible future town-owned fiber optic network to connect town buildings and facilities. The council included those funds in its recommendation. The budget recommended by the Warrant Committee does not include that money.

The tax rate is projected to rise 1.6 percent with the Town Council budget and 1.3 percent if the Warrant Committee version is approved.

Under the council budget, the projected mill rate is 10.76. That means the annual tax bill on a median-value home worth $296,800 would go up $50 from $3,143 to $3,193.

A Communications Technology Task Force (CTTF) appointed by the council looked into the town constructing its own network to connect municipal buildings. The engineering study would be required to determine a good cost estimate for the project and put the work out to bid should the town decide to do so. Early estimates put the cost of that limited network at $2.5 million.

The cost to build a network to serve the entire town is estimated to be around $15 million.

In this year’s budget, town operations and capital expenditures are up 2.56 percent, Town Manager Cornell Knight said in his current budget memo. But both revenues and valuation have increased slightly. Beyond municipal expenditures, the county assessment is up 2.6 percent, the high school assessment is down 0.7 percent and the Bar Harbor elementary school budget is up 2 percent.

No new bond requests are on the warrant for this town meeting. The first year payment on the bond approved last year to repair the fire station has been added, Knight said. A $1.5 million bond to renovate the transfer station is expected to be placed before next year’s town meeting.

The open town meeting on June 7 is slated for 7 p.m. in the Emerson School gymnasium. Copies of the town’s annual report, which includes a detailed agenda for the meeting, are available in the town office.

Elections

One week later, on June 14, voting will be held at the municipal building for open Town Council and School Board seats and on several amendments to the land use ordinance.

The proposed amendments add farmers’ market, single-family and two-family dwellings, car sales lots and garages, home occupation and retirement community to downtown districts; change illuminated sign requirements; clarify Design Review Board authority and move sign regulations so they are all in one section of the ordinance.

The polls will be open at the municipal building from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Candidates for public office include five people running for Town Council. They include Matthew Hochman, Peter Liscomb, Nicholas MacCulloch, incumbent Paul Paradis and former Police Chief Nathan Young.

Kristi Losquadro will be the only candidate on the ballot for two open positions on the superintending school committee. Robert Webber is the only candidate for one seat representing Bar Harbor on the Mount Desert Island High School Board of Trustees.

Profiles of the candidates in contested races will appear in next week’s Islander.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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