Budgets, zoning changes go to voters at Town Meeting

BAR HARBOR — Residents here will decide next week on a municipal budget that could bring a 2.6 percent property tax increase.

Town Meeting is set for Tuesday, June 4, at 7 p.m. in the gym at Conners Emerson School. Elections are the following Tuesday, June 11, at the Municipal Building. Polls open at 8 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

On June 4, Town Meeting attendees will decide on articles A through X, dealing with the municipal and education budget for the fiscal year 2020, and procedural details.

According to Town Clerk Sharon Linscott, Bill Ferm is expected to be nominated as moderator of the meeting. Nominations for the moderator will be taken on the floor of the meeting and then voted on as the first agenda item.

Voters will vote on whether to appropriate a municipal budget of $14,457,874, which would necessitate a 2.6 percent tax rate increase. That means the annual tax bill on a median-valued home worth $289,300 would go up $87, according to budget documents.

Voters will also consider a school budget of $6.5 million, of which the town’s share is estimated to be $4 million, if approved by voters.

Next year’s Warrant Committee will be elected at Town Meeting in an up-or-down vote on a slate of 22 nominees. The slate was prepared by a nominating committee composed of Ferm, current Warrant Committee Chair Seth Libby, current Warrant Committee Secretary Michael Handwerk, John Dargis and Dan Poteet.

Nominee William Murphy would be new to the committee. Jake Jagel stepped down earlier this year, and will be recognized for his years of service on the committee.

All articles that will be decided at the open town meeting are unanimously recommended for adoption by the Town Council and Warrant Committee.

June 11 elections

The first of seven articles on the June 11 written ballot is the election of town officers. In the only contested election, four candidates are running for two seats on the Town Council. The candidates are filmmaker Jeff Dobbs, inn owner and former Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Martha Searchfield, inn owner Peter St. Germain and incumbent council Vice Chair Matthew Hochman.

Incumbent school board members Kristi Losquadro and Alexandra “Lilea” Simis are each running for another three-year term.

Article 2 would amend the Land Use Ordinance to permit museums as an allowed use in the Downtown Village II district. This amendment was requested last year by Bar Harbor Historical Society to allow them to construct a museum on a Cottage Street lot. The organization has since changed plans to develop the property. However, Board member Earl Brechlin spoke in favor of keeping the question on the ballot at a public hearing last October. He said the larger issue is that allowing “museums in [the downtown] zone is beneficial for the town.”

Both the Planning Board and Warrant Committee unanimously recommend rejection of this amendment.

Article 3 would amend the list (Appendix A) of historic properties in the Design Review Overlay District. Both the Planning Board and the Warrant Committee unanimously recommended adoption.

Article 4 is a citizens’ initiative to allow only registered Bar Harbor voters to vote on boards and committees. The council unanimously recommended rejection of the article, and the Warrant Committee voted 15-3 in favor of adoption.

Article 5, a citizens’ initiative zoning change, would limit pier length and size of berthed cruise ships. The Planning Board unanimously recommended rejection of this article, and the Warrant Committee recommended adoption by a vote of 14 to 4.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report misstated the name of William Murphy, a nominee to join the Warrant Committee. The Islander apologizes for the error.

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