Plastic bag ban, crosswalk upgrades going to voters

MOUNT DESERT — Voters at the May 7 annual Town Meeting will decide whether to enact an ordinance to prohibit “the use and distribution of plastic single-use carryout bags” by Mount Desert businesses.

The purpose of the proposed ordinance, as stated in the warrant article, is “to reduce litter and to reduce the environmental impact caused by the use of single-use plastic bags.”

Voters also will be asked if they want to prohibit “the use and distribution of polystyrene food service containers to reduce litter and to reduce the environmental impact” of such containers.

Also on the Town Meeting warrant is the question of authorizing the town to issue bonds to cover the $428,920 cost of bringing 28 crosswalks up to current safety and accessibility standards. The town has contracted with R.F. Jordan & Sons Construction for the project, contingent upon Town Meeting approval. The contract calls for work on the crosswalks to begin this year on Sept. 3 and to be completed by Nov. 15.

Public Works Director Tony Smith said most of the crosswalk deficiencies have to do with location, sight distance, signage and handicap accessibility.

Voters will be asked to authorize the town to spend up to $160,000 in undesignated funds to rebuild 85 feet of the granite block retaining wall on Steamboat Wharf Road in Seal Harbor. The wall, which keeps the road from falling onto the Seal Harbor Yacht Club building, is showing signs of failing.

Voters also will be asked to authorize spending up to $160,000 from the undesignated funds account to rehabilitate the town-owned “bait house” near the end of Dodge Point Road in Seal Harbor.

The 22-by-30-foot building, which sits on 0.05 acres of land, was donated to the town by an adjacent property owner many years ago to be used by local fishermen.

Hedefine Engineering & Design, which evaluated the bait house, determined that the wooden posts holding up the building must be replaced and the floor needs to be shored up to meet the current building code. Other improvements will include door, window and handrail repairs and installation of an electrical subpanel.

Budget and taxes

Property taxes here will go up 28 cents to $7.95 per $100,000 of valuation — an increase of 3.25 percent — if voters at Town Meeting approve the 2019-2020 budget that the Board of Selectmen adopted in March. The total estimated valuation of taxable property in town is $2.08 billion.

The municipal operations budget for next year is just over $10.2 million. In addition, the town will pay $4 million for Mount Desert Elementary School, $2.9 million for Mount Desert Island High School and a Hancock County tax of $947,341.

All of that brings the total town budget for next year to $18.1 million, of which taxpayers will be responsible for $16.4 million. That is an increase from the current fiscal year of 3.11 percent.

Town Meeting voters will be asked to authorize the transfer of $500,000 from the undesignated funds account to reduce the overall tax bill.

When and where

The open-floor town meeting is to start at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7, in the MDES gym.

The day before, Monday, May 6, voters will elect two members of the Board of Selectmen, two members of the Mount Desert School Committee and one member of the MDIHS Board of Trustees. The polls will be open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. at the Somesville fire station.


Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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