CRANBERRY ISLES — In Saturday’s annual town meeting, which lasted more than eight hours, Cranberry Isles voters passed a $2.36 million budget for the coming fiscal year and enacted a ban of cruise ships anchoring or discharging passengers in town waters. They also elected Cory Alley to the Board of Selectmen and rejected a proposal to cut the salary for selectmen.
Fifty votes were the most cast on any of the warrant articles.
Alley succeeds Malcolm Fernald, who chose not to seek another three-year term as selectman. Alley’s wife, Cari, was re-elected to the school committee.
Voters unanimously approved a proposal to borrow and spend up to $100,000 to build a “fiber-to-the-home” broadband network on Sutton Island so that residents there can have the same internet speeds being provided to Islesford and Great Cranberry. There are only 26 homes on Sutton Island. But their owners, all of whom are seasonal residents, account for a significant portion of the town’s tax revenue.
Voters approved spending up to $75,000 to complete the renovation of the town office on Islesford.
For the second year in a row, voters turned down a proposal to sell an office building and 0.65 acres of land the town owns on Mansell Lane in the Southwest Harbor village of Manset. The town will continue to try to lease space in the building.
Also rejected was an ordinance to regulate automobile graveyards, junkyards and automobile recycling businesses.
The question of how much selectmen should be paid generated considerable debate early in the town meeting. Phil Whitney, a former selectman, said he thought the current $8,000 annual salary for the chairman and $7,500 for each of the other two selectmen was excessive, given that they have only one scheduled meeting a month. He proposed cutting the salary for the chairman in half and reducing the pay for the other to selectmen to $3,500.
Fernald said it isn’t just selectmen’s meetings that take up members’ time; it’s everything they have to do between meetings.
“When you’re a selectman, you’re always on the job,” he said. “For me this past year, you could have quadrupled [the salary], and it wouldn’t have paid me minimum wage per hour.”
Others noted that the salaries were raised a few years ago to try to entice more people to agree to serve.
Whitney said the reduced salary figures he proposed weren’t arbitrary.
“I know exactly what I’m talking about in terms of what a selectman does, the phone calls at night and everything else,” he said. “I would remind you that you have a full-time administrative assistant who takes a lot of the burden off the selectmen.”
Several at town meeting indicated agreement with Jason Pickering, who said, “I would propose that we not make these types of decisions on the town meeting floor without any research behind them. This is a discussion to be had at selectmen’s meeting or the MAC (Municipal Advisory Commission) and then presented to vote on with facts behind it at the next town meeting.”
By a wide margin, voters rejected the idea of lowering the selectmen’s salaries for the coming year.