Budget makes up majority of Bar Harbor warrant



BAR HARBOR—With decisions on the fate of cruise ships and vacation rentals destined for a vote in the future, town officials aren’t expecting many fireworks when voters get together on June 1 for Town Meeting.

Most of the 24 articles on the warrant are related to the budget, which is proposed to go up 2.1 percent.

“There’s nothing really controversial,” said Town Council member Gary Friedmann. “The real issues are going to be coming in the fall.”

Bar Harbor Town Manager Cornell Knight anticipated 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.

“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 his March 29 memo. “The median home value of $289,600 would have a $74 increase in annual taxes.”

With the loss of cruise ship revenues, Town Council Chairman Jeff Dobbs felt that the warrant and budget being presented to voters was a solid one.

“All and all, considering the pandemic, I think we are in pretty good shape,” he said.

There is one bond request for $750,000 for the town to install its own fiber optic network. Because of recent federal legislation and an expiring agreement, the town could soon incur a $45,000 per year to continue using its current fiber network with no maintenance guarantee if a service break occurs.

The bond would pay for the town to build and take ownership of its own secure network. The project had the backing of both the council and the Warrant Committee.

Town Meeting will be back in person at the Conners Emerson School gymnasium after the pandemic forced a “drive-in” town meeting at the Mount Desert High School last year.

The hot button issues of how the town will handle cruise ships and short-term vacation rentals won’t be at this Town Meeting, but voters will likely handle them in the near future.

“The most exciting things are yet to come,” Dobbs said.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. and masks will be required.

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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