Bar Harbor passes budget, fiber optic request at Town Meeting 

BAR HARBORVoters breezed through the Town Meeting warrant Tuesday night, approving the budget and a request for money so the town can build its own fiber optic network.  

All 24 articles on the warrant passed in about an hour with little to no dissent and only one question asked.  

Bar Harbor Town Manager Cornell Knight previously cited an increase of 0.7 percent to the municipal portion of the tax commitment, 5 percent for the school, 4.9 percent for the Hancock County assessment and 1.1 percent for the high school, leading to an overall tax increase of 2.1 percent.  

“If budgets were approved as proposed and the valuation estimate is on target then the mill rate would increase from $11.90 to $12.15,” Knight wrote in a memo earlier this spring. “The median home value of $289,600 would have a $74 increase in annual taxes.” 

Two $5,000 additions to the municipal budget were approved, one for community nonprofit Open Table MDI and the other for Acadia Youth Sports  increasing it to $16,483,223.  

Voters approved the one bond request for $750,000 to install a fiber optic network for the municipality. Recent federal legislation and an expiring agreement made it so the town could soon incur $45,000 per year to continue its current fiber network contract with no maintenance guarantee if a service break occurs.  

The bond will pay for the town to build and take ownership of the network.  

Perhaps the most exciting part of the night was having an in-person meeting back at Conners Emerson School. Last year, the pandemic forced the town to hold a “drive-in” town meeting at the Mount Desert High School. The 54 attendees at this year’s meeting still did have to wear masks.  

The meeting will be in recess until next Tuesday, when residents will weigh in on the town election. There currently is a five-way race for two seats on the Town Council.  

Town meeting in the fall will possibly have more fireworks, with voters likely taking up the topics of vacation rentals and cruise ships.  

Ethan Genter

Ethan Genter

Former reporter for the Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander, Ethan covered maritime news and the town of Bar Harbor.

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