BAR HARBOR — Housing, infrastructure and cruise ship visitation were among the topics discussed by town councilors Tuesday in their annual meeting to discuss five-year goals for the town.
Ahead of that meeting, a report was published with follow-up information on their goal-setting session from last year. The goals set had a five-year span from fiscal year 2017 to 2022.
The first goal was to keep property tax increases low while drafting the budget. Last year’s increase in property tax was 2.2 percent.
Another goal was to “create effective plans for a sustainable future,” which included the issue of workforce housing discussed at the latest League of Towns meeting. Prospective property owners, according to the Island Housing Trust, say they can’t afford to live year-round on the island. Town Manager Cornell Knight has allocated $5,000 in next year’s budget for a housing study.
Improving infrastructure also was a point of interest for councilors. One of the goals is to “work with partners and stakeholders to insure that land at the former ferry terminal remains zoned for marine uses, assuring that Bar Harbor retains its status as a Class A port of entry.”
The note under that line says “in negotiations with the DOT to purchase the property by June 2018.” While this language could be read as meaning that the town already has decided to purchase the property, Knight said that language refers to the option agreement that has been on the table since May.
Town officials also wanted to “grow and sustain” cruise ship visitation. A table from Harbormaster Charlie Phippen shows that the town had 148 ship visits this calendar year, 22 more than the previous high in 2013 and 43 more than 2016. Phippen’s projections say cruise ship visits will rise to 174 in 2018 before dropping to 158 in 2019.
The Town Council also voted in January to exceed passenger caps during summer 2018 to see how the town would handle increased quantities of visitors.