Paul Paradis, left, honors David Bowden at last year's Bar Harbor town meeting. Parking, budgets and a "sanctuary community" designation are among the items on the agenda for this year's town meeting on June 6. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Parking, sanctuary votes on Bar Harbor town meeting agenda

BAR HARBOR — A resolution declaring the town a “sanctuary community” and the possibility of parking meters downtown will come before voters at the annual town meeting next Tuesday.

Four bond questions are on the warrant: $2.6 million to rebuild the town’s transfer station facility, $400,000 for parking meters and kiosks, $320,000 for a new ladder fire truck and $150,000 for renovations to the public safety building.

The parking meter bond is part of the Parking Solutions Task Force recommendation that was accepted by the Town Council in May. If approved, a downtown paid parking system would be implemented beginning in May 2018.

The $15.1 million proposed municipal budget for fiscal year 2018 proposed by the Town Council would translate into a 2.2 percent tax increase. That means the annual tax bill on a median valued home worth $297,600 would go up $68, from $3,193 to $3,261, according to budget documents. FY18 runs from July of 2017 through June 2018.

The budget includes an increase of more than $50,000 in the town’s contribution to the Jesup Memorial Library and a $25,000 increase for the YMCA.

The tax increase numbers are slightly different in the warrant committee’s version of the budget, as the latter group recommended a larger increase in the town’s appropriation for the YMCA, increases to other cooperating agencies and no bond issue for parking meters.

The sanctuary community resolution was brought as a citizen initiative by a group chaired by resident Brett Ciccotelli.

According to the wording of the resolution, its purpose is “to ensure all visitors and residents may live free of harassment or arrest by restricting town and law enforcement personnel from asking personal identity questions relating to country or origin, legal residence status, gender identity, race, religion or sexual orientation unless this information is required in the investigation of a serious/violent crime … .”

Mount Desert voters approved the same resolution last month.

In response to a query from Mount Desert Town Manager Durlin Lunt in March, the legal services department of the Maine Municipal Association issued an opinion that the sanctuary resolution would have no legal force because the town’s charter does not give voters or municipal officials the authority to restrict the enforcement of laws. The same appears to be true for Bar Harbor, whose charter has almost identical language regarding the powers of town meeting.

Police Chief Willis said the sanctuary community resolution, if it is adopted, would have no effect on the police department’s policies or practices.

Knight estimated the town’s assessment for the Hancock County budget will increase 6.3 percent. The $6.1 million elementary school fund is not expected to require any change in the tax rate. The town’s assessment for Mount Desert Island High School is expected to increase 3.5 percent.

Town revenues and valuation are both up this year, Knight wrote in his budget memo. During budget review, councilors increased parking ticket fees from $15 to $20 and planning document fees from $60 to $100.

The budget also includes an increase of $40,000 to help fund the planned reconstruction of the Park Street Playground.

The town’s Warrant Committee, which reviews and makes recommendations on the budget and other warrant articles, is elected at town meeting. Contrary to past practice, nominations for Warrant Committee will only be accepted from the floor of town meeting if voters first reject the slate of candidates prepared by the nominating committee.

This year, the nominating committee received many more applications for next year’s Warrant Committee than seats available, and some members questioned the longstanding practice of automatically renominating all sitting committee members willing to continue to serve.

The open portion of town meeting is set for Tuesday, June 6, at 7 p.m. in the Emerson School Gymnasium.

Elections for municipal officials, including three new Town Council members (see related story), and 12 proposed land use ordinance amendments will be decided by written ballot at town meeting elections June 13. A statewide research and development bond also is on the ballot.

Reporter Dick Broom contributed to this story.

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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