Town Meeting taking place in two phases

SOUTHWEST HARBORRestrictions on the number of people allowed to gather at one time are changing the way towns are conducting their Town Meetings this year. In Southwest Harbor the annual event will take place in two phases and all by ballot.  

Phase one will take place the same day as the state’s primary election, July 14, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and be held at the fire station on Main Street. Phase two, voting on 43 warrant articles, is scheduled on Tuesday, August 11, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will also take place at the fire station.  

Residents can request an absentee ballot from the town office. Those can be returned in person, at the polls, until 8 p.m. on voting day. 

According to a newsletter recently sent out by the town to help voters, the town report will be available at the town office on Friday, June 26.  

In addition to voting for the state primary and two local referendum questions on July 14, voters will be asked to elect two new members of the Board of Selectmen, reelect the two incumbents for the School Committee and the one incumbent for the Board of Trustees of the school district.  

A public hearing for the two local questions took place earlier this week via Zoom, with only a few people in attendance.  

One local question will ask voters to approve the proposed updated Coastal Waters and Harbor Ordinance. Reviewed and revised by members of the Harbor Committee at the end of last year, the ordinance had not been updated since 2014. Changes included editing and updates which added specific harbor landmarks, as well as a few safety regulations.  

This ordinance is focused on the use of the harbor waters, docks and greater harbor ocean area, according to Anne Napier, chairman of the harbor committee. A copy of the proposed ordinance is available on the town’s website and at the town office.  

The second question will ask voters to approve building a new public works garage for $1.9 million at the public works facility located on Seal Cove Road. The current garage is only insured for liability and contents at this point because of its deteriorated condition. In May, members of the Board of Selectmen voted to accept the lowest of four bids submitted for the building project, contingent upon Town Meeting approval.  

If approved, work on the new building would begin as soon as possible, according to Town Manager Justin VanDongen. He said during the public hearing on Tuesday that the goal would be to have it “habitable before the snow flies.” 

Second Phase 

On Tuesday, Aug. 11, the second phase of the Town Meeting will take place at the polls where voters will have 42 warrant articles to answer in a yes or no format on the ballot. Requests for an absentee ballot to vote on these items can be made after the state election if one was not received with the state ballot. 

Voters will be asked to approve a fiscal year 2021 school budget of $4,000,892 on this ballot, which no longer includes the startup costs for a prekindergarten program. A public hearing to ask questions about the school budget is scheduled to take place via Zoom at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, July 6. Questions for that hearing can be presented by phone or email to a member of the select board prior to the hearing. Questions can also be emailed to [email protected] during the hearing. 

A municipal budget of $4,446,500 is also going before voters. That equates to a 3.21 percent increase in the mil rate over last year’s rate, going from 13.95 to 14.40. A public hearing for the municipal budget and questions regarding that portion of the warrant/ballot is scheduled for Monday, July 13, at 5:30 p.m., also via Zoom. 

To attend either public hearing, click on the link provided on the town’s website.  




Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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