Town funds for buses, restrooms questioned

MOUNT DESERT — Back in the late winter, the Board of Selectmen reviewed funding requests from more than two dozen organizations – libraries, village improvement societies and social service agencies –and decided the town should give them a total of $316,887this fiscal year. 

On Monday, the board voted to recommend to voters at next Tuesday’s Town Meeting that the total be reduced by $19,500. 

The majority of that amount, $14,000, had been earmarked for the Island Explorer bus system. But since the buses are not running this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the selectmen decided it would be prudent to withhold town funding. 

Another $5,500 was to go to the Great Harbor Maritime Museum on Main Street in Northeast Harbor to pay for cleaning and stocking the public restrooms at the front of the building. But those restrooms are closed this summer. Instead, the town is paying to rent, supply and clean two portable toilets that have been placed behind the museum building. 

The selectmen debated whether to revisit the funding requests of other agencies to see if their allocations should be reduced because they have not been able to provide all the services they expected to. But they ultimately agreed with Selectman Matt Hart, who said, “If an organization is simply not opening for the season, I think that’s what we look at. But if someone is trying to make a go of it and do the best they can, I’m not concerned about that.” 

He said that, even if an organization is not providing complete services right now, that could change in the next month or two. 

Selectman Geoff Wood agreed that the board should not start “nitpicking” the agency requests. 

“If (organizations) have saved money because of short-term closures, they’ve also spent more because of increases of cleaning and so on,” he said. 

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]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.